Hits & misses: Collaborations with H&M

Last week, sporty wunderkind designer Alexander Wang announced his upcoming collaboration with Swedish fast-fashion giant H&M.

Set to debut in November, it is H&M's first design collaboration with an American designer.

Other luxury brands that have worked with H&M include Stella McCartney, Sonia Rykiel, Maison Martin Margiela and Isabel Marant.

Ten years on since H&M first spearheaded high-low design collaborations with a collection with Karl Lagerfeld in 2004, how have they fared? Urban highlights the clear hits and misses over the years.


Karl Lagerfeld

What: Chanel creative director Karl Lagerfeld, who is known to enjoy breaking new fashion ground, designed a line for the Swedish fast-fashion giant in 2004. It included jackets, tops, jeans and more, with popular items like a T-shirt emblazoned with a silhouette of Lagerfeld's face.

Why: Simply put - Karl Lagerfeld led the way. The high-fashion designer's choice to work with the fast-fashion brand led to a collection that flew off shelves and ushered in a new era for H&M.

Designer collaborations became a popular concept that is

still going strong today, drumming up excitement for the brand and giving shoppers a chance to get their hands on high-fashion design but at fast-fashion prices.

Interestingly, Lagerfeld himself expressed dissatisfaction that the pieces were created in larger sizes and that not enough were produced.


What: Designer Alber Elbaz of Lanvin designed a collection for H&M in 2010 for eager shoppers. Full of party-perfect cocktail dresses with whimsical ruffle and tulle details, the collection included elegant touches like bejewelled necklines and grosgrain ribbon.

Why: The designer collaboration was a hit because it was wearable and characterised by classic Lanvin touches.

From illustrated T-shirts to flattering fit and flare silhouettes, the items in the collection were far from intimidating for the everyday shopper.

The ribbons, draping and other feminine touches also translated the Lanvin look well, at a fraction of their usual cost.


What: In 2012, Marni designer Consuelo Castiglioni created a collection for H&M full of her signature quirky touches such as tribal prints, dots and sophisticated colour-blocking.

The print campaign and accompanying video were shot by director Sofia Coppola.

Why: The collection featured plenty of matching printed tops and bottoms, which were versatile in that you could combine them for a statement look or mix and match for a more subtle take on things.

The signature ladylike and slightly oversized silhouette was easy to carry off, and accessories like the bold necklaces - a typical Marni statement piece - in the collection were a hit.


Viktor & Rolf

What: In 2006, Dutch duo Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren were the designers on deck, creating a line of clothing for H&M that evoked their fanciful and architectural style.

It was a collection full of volume and ruffles were a signature touch.

Why: The designers were a risky choice, with regards to their fame level.

Compared to Karl Lagerfeld and Stella McCartney, the other fashion designers who have collaborated with H&M up to that date, Viktor & Rolf was more a name known in fashion circles than by the everyday shopper.


What: Sexy Italian label Versace was tapped to create a line for H&M in 2012. Designer Donatella Versace delivered a line full of the house's decadent prints and sexy studs.

Why: Versace's collection, with its 1990s blingstastic, body-conscious style, may not have been very wearable for the older or less- than-fit crowd.

Also, the luxury label usually uses luxe materials that keep the designs from looking too tacky, which proved a difficult standard to maintain with a fast-fashion tie-up.

Maison Martin Margiela

What: Working with the mysterious Belgian brand Maison Martin Margiela - whose namesake designer refused to be photographed during his tenure - in 2012 was a new direction for the Swedish fast-fashion group.

Known for its avant-garde style, the brand created deconstructed pieces such as two-in-one jackets and asymmetrical dresses.

Why: The edgy pieces - such as a horizontally worn dress - were difficult for many shoppers to wrap their minds around.

While the accessories, which included items such as a candy wrapper clutch and plexi wedge heels were popular, the rest of the collection was just not as accessible.

This article was published on April 25 in Urban, The Straits Times.

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