Saturday, 21 May 2011

High Street & Designer Collaborations: The Hip & Hype

High-street and designer collaborations have rolled out all over the place in recent years; promising everyday normal folk the chance to own something they covet, but might never be able to actually afford; stripping away that 'nose pressed up against the glass looking in' factor.
So amongst the marketing hype, fashion bodies camped out overnight to be first in line and the constant fashion blah blah which we writers churn out hailing a capsule range of garments with the letter 'K' on them as "must-haves" for your wardrobe, I ask who stood out from the crowd, and who might be next.....?

Lanvin for H&M

A capsule range from Alber Elbaz who re-worked and customised unique haute couture looks from Lanvin's past and contemporary collections giving them a more urban/wearable edge.
It was a total sell-out, both in-store and online, and I physically saw scuffles over wristbands to get inside stores, along with a few accidentally-on-purpose elbows in the back to get to those frou frou cocktail dresses! Now now girls (and boys).
It's also worth pointing out that H&M's previous collaborations have included Lagerfeld, Comme des Garçons and Viktor & Rolf, among others. Yes they should be feeling blasé that they've injected some va-va-voom into the high street (Topshop is still in a league of their own though), but H&M do run the risk of becoming labelled as the high street's great big fashion pimp. There is also a high possibility that the person next to you on the tube (and the one after them) is wearing the same coat / shoes / top as you. *Fashion clone factor high*.

Valentino for GAP

What makes Gap so famous?
Yes, that's right, it's utilitarian basics - and here they come with a luxury injection. Think Cargo trousers with ruffles and trench coats transformed with frill edged detailing.
Valentino's designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli say: “We love mixing different cultures and we have been excited to mix gap’s timeless essentials with our roman culture of couture.
“It brings together the iconic world of Valentino and Gap’s fashion staples, synthesising the current trend of combining luxury with basics
The collection is only available in Gap’s Milan store, its flagship Oxford Street branch, Dover Street Market in London and Colette in Paris. That's if you can find anything left...

Karl Lagerfeld for Macy's

Move over Madge, that 'Material Girl' range didn't exactly fly off the rails (which could have something to do with Taylor Momsen's face splashed all over the ad campaign) but anyway....
Unkle Karl's new line is set to offer everything from jeans to gowns and debuts next September in 250 stores and online. Obviously as expected, the capsule collection will be a limited edition one.
Terry J. Lundgren, chairman and chief executive officer of Macy's told WWD:

"Karl Lagerfeld holds a unique place in the world of fashion, an icon who is the ultimate modernist. Through the decades, his style and vision have marked the history of design. It is a tremendous honour to bring his inimitable perspective to our fashion customer."

Macy's have also secured one-off capsule ranges from Calvin Klein, Paul Smith,Vivienne Westwood, Kinder Aggugini, Versace and Costume National to appear in store and online for a limited period; with each designer's collection rotating every two months beginning in February 2011. Hi ho, hi's off to New York we go.

SO.....who's next?

Well, the French Tribune set the fashion grape vine abuzz with the 'news' that Tom Ford was to design an exclusive range for H&M (there's that name again), just hours after the Lanvin launch. Hmm...
Any fashionista worth their low-calorie rock salt will know this is pure fantasy and could never happen (I'll eat my fascinator if it does.....I don't really own one though).
Ford would never touch a high street collaboration. And how do I know this...?
Well, he once expressed his disdain for "fast fashion" - particularly the way catwalk show footage is distributed via the internet, saying: “I do not understand everyone’s need to see everything online the day after a show.
I don’t think it ultimately serves the customer, which is the whole point of my business—not to serve journalists or the fashion system. To put something out that’s going to be in a store in six months, and to see it on a starlet, ranked in US magazine next week? My customer doesn’t want to wear the same thing she saw on a starlet!
Yup, so that's a no then.

Images © Tom Ford, Gap, Lanvin, Macy's

This is also the man who launched his S/S 2011 comeback womenswear range at New York Fashion Week this year and only allowed a select number of press to witness its unveiling, banning the rest of the hangers-on (and bloggers). You kind of get the feeling that he knows the meaning of 'exclusive', and that 'real' luxury is most definitely limited and not something to be consumed at happy shopper, high-street level.
In fact, speaking of his latest collection, which boasts an ad campaign photographed by Steven Meisel featuring models Karen Elson and veteran of the catwalk, Stella Tennant, Ford revealed:

It’s about individuality. Real clothes, real women. For a fashionable woman aged 25 to 75. That’s why I literally put many of my own muses in the show. I hear them say, ‘God, I can’t find that anywhere!
"A woman knows when she wants a great jacket - not a fake expensive jacket, something that has intrinsic value. I don’t think fashion has to change every five minutes. I’d like these to be clothes you can wear for a long time—ten, 20 years; pass on to your daughter. Why buy vintage when you can open your own closet!

So there you have it. Tom's got staying power and a finger firmly on the pulse of covetable luxury, and unlike Karl et al, he's not about to make that signature aesthetic affordable to the masses.
And you know what, secretly we're all quite glad. Imagine the queues and the scram for that, it would be a ford-fight!


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