At long last – a link with the Ferry man

After many years of struggling to make even the most tenuous of connections, I am delighted to report that sharp-suited pop icon Bryan Ferry and I finally have something in common.

After many years of struggling to make even the most tenuous of connections, I am delighted to report that sharp-suited pop icon Bryan Ferry and I finally have something in common.

He is to be the much-publicised new face of menswear at Marks & Spencer… while I am a regular buyer of everything from socks to suits at local branches of the high street giant. Does that, er, somehow give us an equal air of coolness?

The debonair lead singer of Roxy Music has throughout his musical career oozed style and sophistication, a little like my good self of course.

Whether gyrating at the microphone to hits like Love is the Drug, accompanied by lip-glossed sirens and smooth saxophonists, or pictured poolside in a gleaming white tuxedo, the sultan of suave has always made me feel desperately envious.


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Indeed, it was nine years ago that I first described - in this very column - how I'd long yearned to be more like His Royal Handsomeness, King Bryan. Back in my school days, we Gorleston lads all dreamed of being so Ferry stylish.

Initially, the pop frontman's image was a confusing cross between art school subversive and lounge lizard crooner: one minute crashing through Virginia Plain or Do the Strand, the next giving jazz standards like These Foolish Things an emotional reheat.

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And despite his ill-advised glam rock period, more Roxy Horror than Roxy Music, Ferry became an enduring British vision of country-gent chic: he was always annoyingly dapper from top to toe.

In short, the mannered vocalist was the kind of star who not only had a certain Je ne sais quoi, he actually knew how to pronounce it.

Ferry is no stranger to the world of advertising. Curiously, when I last mentioned him in this column it was because he was then promoting shoes made in a Norwich factory.

It was intriguing, back in 1997, to see a funny advert for Start-rite Shoes in which a dejected-looking Bryan Ferry was pictured trying to squeeze his foot into a tiny boot, with the caption: “Start-rite - exclusively designed for children.”

Now the 61-year-old singer, who often performs on stage in tailored silk suits, is leaving kids' shoes behind and stepping instead into a major new autumn advertising campaign for the M&S Autograph collection, with images captured by photographer David Bailey.

Ferry says of the campaign: “Marks & Spencer is a great British brand and I'm very happy to be associated with it.”

The retailer is clearly keen to combine traditional elegance with modern styling, though employing a gentleman in his sixties - even someone with credentials as cool as champagne-on-ice for nostalgic fortysomethings like me - is a bold move.

I cannot believe that younger shoppers, including those Beckhamesque followers of soccer star style, will be too easily influenced by someone older than their own dreary dads who was warbling on about Avalon while their mums were still attending antenatal classes.

With or without the endorsement of the Roxy Music man, I've been a devotee of M&S menswear for years. Indeed, I buy so much clobber from the British chain that St Michael has become the patron saint of Bullock Towers.

Sometimes my entire outfit - including belt, shoes and even a brolly - has come from M&S, and my ties have often prompted admiring comments from friends and colleagues.

“That's a posh tie. Have you been splashing out? Are you off to a job interview?” folk will inquire. When I flip the trendy tie over to reveal it's from M&S they are frequently surprised.

I haven't yet dared to try on a white tuxedo, however, for fear that I would end up looking more North Sea Ferry than Bryan Ferry.

Much like Ferry himself, the retailer spent a period in the wilderness - when its products did not come up to past standards and flatly failed to appeal to British consumers.

M&S is now, of course, enjoying a resurgence under chief executive Stuart Rose and its ingenious use of style icon Twiggy has contributed greatly to recent successes. Twiggy, in my humble opinion, looks better now than ever before - a big improvement on her androgynous and stick-thin Swinging Sixties days.

Am I the only husband in Norfolk who has wandered into M&S, shuffled up to the counter in an embarrassed fashion and inquired, “My wife wants to know if you're selling that Twiggy outfit - the one from the advert”?

No, I thought not.

Will Bryan Ferry, I wonder, have a similar effect?

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