Since launching her label in 1994, Marant has become known for her edgy, boho-flavoured designs which are the essence of Parisian style – a little bit glamorous, a little bit rock ‘n’ roll (in the adorably naive fashion sense, rather than the sweaty, hairy reality), lots of fringing and denim cut-offs and slouchy sweatshirts with dangly beaded earrings.
She’s one of those designers who fashion folk have long been obsessed with and whose pieces have been imitated a thousand times by the high street (see: wedge trainers – which I don’t approve of, but lots of people love for some reason.)
H&M really did transform the high street with their designer collaborations – it was something that hadn’t been done before. Somehow they managed to persuade some of the biggest luxury brands in the world to produce collections that cost a tenth of their usual prices.
Actually it all seems to be the work of one very clever woman – H&M’s Creative Advisor, Margareta van den Bosch, a jolly looking lady who reminds me a bit of Women’s Hour’s Jenni Murray. Of the Marant collection she said, “The way she mixes different elements in her collections, creating a style that is effortless and urban, makes her very contemporary.”
Recently H&M had been releasing designer collaborations quite frequently, but I think they decided to scale it back again to one a year in order to return to that feeling of exclusivity and excitement that the early collections had.
I’ve never been one to camp on the pavements outside a store and storm it the moment the doors open, because ultimately these clothes aren’t designer originals - they’re something else entirely. And just because something has a designer’s label sewn inside it, that doesn’t automatically make it beautiful or superior to other clothes. You still have to pick and choose carefully.
So which of H&M’s designer collaborations were my favourites? The ultimate one for me has to be Karl Lagerfeld’s collection, which was one of the earliest. I bought a black cotton tuxedo shirt with a gloriously stiff, high collar and real cufflinks and wore it until it turned grey with use.
And then, happy day, I found one of the silk taffeta cocktail dresses from the line on the SALE RAIL and bought it for about £12! It was one of the loveliest dresses I’ve ever owned and was actually the template that we based my wedding dress on.
I still have it, but the silk chiffon neckline has started to decay – I’ve had it repaired once but I don’t think it can take any more. I’ll never give it away– there are some clothes that are just too lovely and carry too many happy memories in every thread to part with.
Then there was Sonia Rykiel’s collection, which was a brilliantly colourful, stripy, playful affair that struck just the right note with H&M’s youthful demographic. I loved how surprisingly successful the Marni range was too – the Italian brand isn’t particularly well known in the mainstream so the designs almost had to sell themselves (the Sofia Coppola-directed ad campaign probably didn’t hurt though.)
Viktor & Rolf and H&M made a pleasingly odd couple and their wedding dress was quite incredible. But ones I haven’t been so impressed by have included the Versace collections (although those were incredibly popular), Madonna’s and sadly the Lanvin one, which I wanted to love but just couldn’t.
The H&M collection will arrive in 250 stores worldwide and online on November 14 and will features clothes and accessories for women, teenagers and men.
Have you ever queued all night for anything? Gig tickets? Iphones? What's your favourite high street/designer collab?