Solved! Your summer dress dilemma

Solved! Your summer dress dilemma: Fenwick’s 140th anniversary range features weddings, parties and stitched novelty outfits

  • This year, the family-run department store Fenwick’s celebrates its 140th anniversary
  • The northern company has commissioned a host of collabs to celebrate
  • Collaborators include Edeline Lee, Samantha Sung, Rixo and Nobody’s Child

There’s a familiar story between poverty and wealth in many of our most beloved high-end department stores: a humble family business transforming into an iconic fashion institution.

Charles Harrod began life as a miller; Harry Gordon Selfridge was a cattle boy while James John Fenwick (JJ, as he was known) was one of 11 children from a North Yorkshire farming family.

Dress, £89, Nobody’s Child and bag, £350, Themoirè, shoes, £299,

Dress, £745, Denim ELV

Dress, £745, Denim ELV

But Harrods and Selfridges, along with Liberty and Harvey Nichols, are no longer family businesses. These days, they’re all owned by giant multinational corporations (or in the case of Harrods, the Qatar Investment Authority).

Only Fenwick remains firmly in the family, with its flagship store on the original site in Northumberland Street, Newcastle.

Dress, £285, Max Mara Weekend

Dress, £700, Edeline Lee, and bag, £350, Themoirè

Left: Dress, £285, Weekend Max Mara. Right: Dress, £700, Edeline Lee, and bag, £350, Themoirè

This year, Fenwick celebrates its 140th anniversary and has nine stores across the country. He has a loyal and royal clientele. The iconic navy blue wrap dress that the Duchess of Cambridge wore to announce her engagement was purchased from the Issa concession in Fenwick’s Bond Street store. To mark its anniversary, Fenwick has commissioned a slew of collaborations with designers including Edeline Lee, Samantha Sung, Rixo, Nobody’s Child, Max Mara and sustainable zero-waste brand ELV Denim. Formal wear is what Fenwick does best, and it’s no surprise that the collection contains pieces that will see you through the summer season.

Dress, £450, Max Mara Weekend

Dress, £365, Rixo

Left: Dress, £450, Weekend Max Mara. Right: Dress, £365, Rixo

Samantha Sung’s floral print pleated midi dress is a work of art that would flatter anyone, while Rixo’s stunning fuchsia wrap dress with metallic thread detailing will suit weddings, parties and chic dinners this year and next. If the rich pink color isn’t for you, the Fenwick collection also offers pieces in turquoise, lilac and pale blue hues. My favorite design is the Navy and White Edeline Lee Sleeveless Dress.

Dress, £655, Samantha Sung, and bag, £190, Apatchy London

Dress, £655, Samantha Sung, and bag, £190, Apatchy London

“We always strive for a real ‘wow’ with our collections,” says Leo Fenwick, JJ’s great-great-grandson and brand manager. “No one wants to look like everyone else. It’s that sense of individuality that gives us our distinction. In other words, a quintessentially British approach to style.


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