Catwalk king brings madness to the shop floor
Friday 24 April 2009
He is known for clothing the likes of Sienna Miller in his fluttery, feminine dresses and for having Prince play an impromptu set at one of his catwalk shows.
British-born Matthew Williamson's designs may be at home on the red carpet but the question was how would they fare on the UK high street?
And the answer was extremely well, when his collection launched at H&M yesterday. We've seen orgiastic shopping scenes like this before – when the Stella McCartney collection arrived in 2005, and in 2007 when a capsule by Roberto Cavalli went in-store.
Williamson, below, is the latest designer to team up with the high street chain, in a collaboration which began with Karl Lagerfeld and has also included Madonna, the avant garde Dutch duo Viktor and Rolf and the conceptual fashion renegade Rei Kawakubo from Comme des Garçons.
Such projects, which allow shoppers to pay £30 for a piece by a designer whose clothes might normally cost £2,000 or more, point to a shift in what fashion followers are looking for. The high street has thrived on "fast fashion" and intuitive "re-imaginings" of catwalk trends, but the H&M ranges are slightly different: they're the real thing. Instead of copying an Aztec print from Williamson's latest collection and reproducing it in a cheaper fabric and in a slightly worse cut, H&M has asked Williamson himself to re-interpret his work for a different, rather less-moneyed audience. So the customer gets a much better deal.
His collection includes a pink silk dress for £69.99, a blue silk blazer (£69.99) with matching cropped trousers (£49.99) and a £149.99 leather bomber jacket. The industry secret that everyone wants to know is how much H&M pays its collaborators. Nobody has managed to find out, but it would need to be a significant amount to entice the likes of Lagerfeld and Kawakubo. They certainly don't need the cash, they must just want to do this – and it pays off, when they produce such decent, cohesive and fluent ranges for the store, which really encapsulate the kernels of their brands.
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