"The Edit was a selection of clothes within the existing M&S collection and I picked my favourite items, which also had a sustainability attribute. Although the reason I partnered with M&S is because you can almost say that there is a 'green thread' which runs through all they do."
What were the challenges of designing rather than curating?
"I wouldn't call them challenges as it was a real collaboration. I knew what I liked and how I wanted the clothes and the bags to be. Working with the M&S design team was amazing and meant that areas such as sizing and pattern cutting were made very easy!"
How would you describe this collection?
"These are classic, timeless pieces that anyone, regardless of shape and age, can wear and keep forever. Transcending seasons and also occasions - going from work to a party for example and changing the look with different accessories. I have always admired women such as Jackie Onassis, Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn: wearing simple chic clothes and being elegant any time anywhere, without trying too much."
Tell us about the accessories.
"I use the same handbag every day: it has to be simple and it needs to be roomy without being huge. I also wanted something with a twist, so I've used a bright pink lining inside and tassel outside, but more than anything it has to be of good quality and finish. This is something that I can't compromise on - also an Italian trait. And then we did a clutch in the same style which you can even fit into the main handbag or can use alone if you go out in the evening to a special occasion."
You travelled to Brazil to personally assure the sustainability of the leather used in the bags - tell us about what you learned on your visit.
"I spent time on the ground with rancheros on giant ranches in the state of Mato Grosso where the majority of Brazil's 200 million cows are raised. This might sound like an odd place for someone who is designing a fashion collection to hang out, but for me it's key to get to grips with the supply chain. Many consumers want to wear leather, but I wanted to source from as sustainable and accessible a supply chain as possible - and this one addresses deforestation and sustainability on ranches through a groundbreaking programme that basically teaches ranchers to be green. You have to understand the mindset of these guys to understand what a transformation that is! Forty years ago they were told to settle the land by the government and to chop down as much rainforest as possible. Now they have us environmentalists telling them to stop. But the thing I learned is that there is huge capacity for change, and that change works! It's a great thrill to give M&S customers the chance to access that supply chain."
What is your favorite piece from the collection?
"If I had to pick only one it would have to be the black dress. We all need one right?!"
What's next in your collaboration with M&S - what can we expect this year?
"A lot of exciting things. I can't wait to start telling some of their stories and values through our future collaborations. Watch this space!"
The collection will be available at Marks & Spencer Marble Arch from 11-15 February, and online from February 11 at Marksandspencer.com/Liviafirth.