Isabel Marant for H&M: Collection designer is no Karl Lagerfeld

Marant is a household name in France but she's a step down next to the other talents H&M have tapped, says Alexander Fury

You may already be in a scrum outside an H&M store reading this. You may be steeling yourself for the trip. Or you may have no idea what the hubbub you passed on your way to work is all about. The fuss is over French designer Isabel Marant's "masstige" collaboration with high street behemoth H&M. And, as that clumsy portmanteau betrays, it's yet another chance to get your hands on a piece of designer clobber at a bargain-basement price.

Mademoiselle Marant is no Karl Lagerfeld, the designer who fronted H&M's first high-end collaboration in 2004. His name, and his sunglassed, ponytailed countenance, were immediately recognisable, as was his fashion sense.

In some eyes – mine at, least – Marant is a step down next to the other talents H&M have tapped. Rei Kawakubo's Comme des Garçons and Maison Martin Margiela changed the course of contemporary fashion, questioning postmodern notions of luxury.

Isabel Marant makes jeans, embroidered jackets and fringed suede booties. Her most noteworthy contribution to the state of modern dress is that hybrid of training-shoe and trotter, the "wedge sneaker". It's an unholy coupling, but for the past few years it has proved ubiquitous, a fashion verruca we're not yet shut of.

I'm being harsh. But honest. Isabel Marant herself would probably agree: "I wanted to create clothes that I myself wished to buy," she stated, simply, to L'Express a decade ago.

Marant was born in Paris in 1967. Her mother was a director of the Elite model agency (and a model herself). She began customising her own clothes as a teenager.

Parisian fashion designer Isabel Marant (Getty Images) Parisian fashion designer Isabel Marant (Getty Images)
In the mid-Eighties she designed a few pieces with Christophe Lemaire (now head designer of Hermès, a bastion of French hyper-luxury), the success of which encouraged her to abort plans to study economics: she enrolled at the Studio Berçot fashion school instead.

After working alongside designers such as Chloé, Claude Montana and Martine Sitbon, Marant established her own label in 1994 and began showing her collections as part of Paris Fashion Week. Success was swift.

Marant's success is also due, in no small part, to Emmanuelle Alt, Paris Vogue's editor in chief and for many years the stylist for Marant's label. Hence the fact that Isabel Marant became the "uniform" of the Paris Vogue set: impossibly skinny jeans, oversized jackets, unwashed hair, spindly heels.

Off-duty models also love its nonchalance – fashionese for "slept in", a snippy phrase thrown about a lot when describing her aesthetic. In the past, it's been slept-in rock-chick, or slept-in with Navajo embroidery. Autumn/winter 2013 was slept-in with studs.

Isabel Marant's look has ousted the stripey T-shirt and beret as the national costume of France. At least, for French fashion-followers. She's doing a roaring trade: cannily, her prices fall shy of high-fashion high-fliers. Marant's knitwear can be yours for around £300, a coat for £800.

Hefty, but hardly stratospheric. Otherwise, she punches like a heavyweight. Isabel Marant, and its signature cross-hatched asterix star logo advertises in all the glossies, and is stocked in 35 countries. She has 14 standalone stores, including one on chi-chi Bruton Street in London's Mayfair.

Isabel Marant may not be the world's greatest fashion designer, but she has the connections to know what's going to be cool before the rest of us. And that's what's got the crowds queuing at H&M this morning.

Suggested Topics
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
Life and Style

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Year 5 Teacher

    £80 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Year 5 Teacher KS2 teaching job...

    Software Developer

    £35000 - £45000 Per Annum Pensions Scheme After 6 Months: Clearwater People So...

    Systems Analyst / Business Analyst - Central London

    £35000 - £37000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Busines...

    Senior Change Engineer (Network, Cisco, Juniper) £30k

    £30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Senior Change ...

    Day In a Page

    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

    Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

    The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
    Let's talk about loss

    We need to talk about loss

    Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
    Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

    'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

    If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
    James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
    Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

    Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

    Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
    Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

    Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

    Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
    How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

    How to dress with authority

    Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
    New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

    New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

    'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
    Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

    Tim Minchin interview

    For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
    Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
    Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

    Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

    Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album