It’s not the most obvious fashion collaboration, but then it was renowned Swedish retailer H&M that started the whole ‘designer creates bargain range for High Street stores’ in the first place. This season however, H&M seem to have outdone themselves by getting the less well known fashion house – Maison Martin Margiela in on the act. The fact is that Margiela are best known for their quirky creations, ranging from avant garde designs such as cloven-toe boots that resemble animal hooves, knits with inlaid brick motifs and jackets made almost entirely from synthetic hair. The collaboration with H&M will see reworkings of Margiela classics such as nude-color bodysuits with a trompe l’oeil black bandeau bra, huge duvet coat and a pair of “inside out” blue jeans. Problem is, their designs are so aimed for the ‘catwalk’, ordinary people may not think they are suitable for them. I’m talking huge swathes of material being used for a pair of jeans or a duvet coat, this is fine if you are a stick thin fashion model or celebrity, but walk down your local high street in a pair and you’ll be stared at for all the wrong reasons.
And stylist and former V fashion market editor Catherine Newell-Hanson agrees: “It’s an unusual choice for a mass collaboration. ” Margiela is known for its complex, defiantly un-trendy and not always flattering clothes. Although fashionistas may love the brand, as fashion insiders certainly did when they first went down the runway, but industry experts are dubious as to whether their mass-market reissues, priced from $12.95 (for a women’s “hair lock” necklace) to $399 (for men’s and women’s assorted jackets and shoes), will be a success.
However, as it is a fashion favourite of the more quirky of celebrities such as singer Lady Gaga, actress Chloë Sevigny and model Helena Christensen, perhaps the celebrity endorsement will be enough to secure a new fanbase. “Those who love Margiela love it in part because it’s unique and not trying to appeal to everyone,” says fashion consultant and StyleDefined NYC blogger Katya Moorman.
However, some are questioning whether a bargain reworking of the fashion house will lead to an inferior product. “A reconstructed coat that appears to be made from two different vintage pieces is only luxurious through its use of fine materials,” states MMM collector Shawn Lisle. “Otherwise, it just looks shoddy.”
H&M on the otherhand are pretty confident with their new collaboration as company spokeslady Jennifer Ward says: “This collaboration will prove that fashion is not a matter of price.” But could the very fact that this exclusive fashion house now has products on the High Street detract from their value? Blogger Moorman thinks so: “Sharing it with the masses is a game changer,” she says. “Up until now, owning one of their pieces reflected a real love of a particular aesthetic. [It proved] you weren’t just a mall shopper.”
The new collection debuts at H&M on Thursday 15 November instore and online.
All images courtesy H&M