Designer collections for the high street have been around for years now so it takes something special to make shoppers sit up and take notice. Judging by the first look at the Lanvin collection for H&M yesterday, however, here is a panacea for collaboration fatigue.
The collection, called Lanvin [hearts] H&M will go on sale on November 23 in shops worldwide, and includes menswear, womenswear, accessories and lipsticks. Prices range from £7.99 for a lipstick to £199 for a silk satin evening coat, while most of the cocktail dresses are £99. News that Lanvin would be creating a range for the Swedish high street giant H&M caused a wave of excitement within the fashion industry when it was announced in June. Lanvin designer Alber Elbaz said that what "intrigued" him was "the idea of H&M going luxury" but some question whether the label would retain its sophisticated- and accordingly expensive - femininity on a budget.
Somehow, Elbaz has nailed it. While you would never mistake these pieces for the real thing, they appear well made from high quality fabrics such as wool and silk. As has been the case with many of H&M's previous collaborations with designer labels, the collection distils many of Lanvin's signature shapes and details, past and present, rather than replicating its current collection. Grosgrain ribbons, bows, pearls, ruffled and tiered silk cocktail dresses, evening coats and trenches, costume jewels, and raw edges have all been trends thanks to Lanvin, and they all make an appearance here. One of the sweetest finishing touches is the cream presentation boxes that the shoes and accessories will be presented in.
Among the womenswear, the cocktail dresses stand out and are bound to be a bestseller, especially the one-shoulder versions in black and yellow cotton. Highlights of the menswear collection - which has also been designed by Lucas Ossendrijver - include a double-breasted navy wool coat with gold buttons and neat navy seersucker blazers. Amongst the men's accessories there are also bow ties- one of Alber Elbaz's trademarks.
Ever since he was appointed in 2001, Elbaz has been responsible for transforming Lanvin from a dusty old Parisian house founded by Jeanne Lanvin in 1889, into one of the most prestigious luxury houses. Before that he worked for Geoffrey Beene, Guy Laroche and Yves Saint Laurent.
Elbaz has said of the collection, "ninety-five percent of women cannot afford [Lanvin] so let them have a taste", and he isn't worried that bringing out an affordable one-off line will cheapen Lanvin's high end image. After all he's in good company, since Stella McCartney, Comme des Garçons and Karl Lagerfeld have all created lines for H&M, although Lagerfeld later criticized the distribution of his designs and the fact that they were made in large sizes. Other forthcoming designer and high street collaborations include a capsule collection by Valentino for Gap.
Timeline: High fashion designers doing ranges for high street
Designers at Debenhams, 1996-present
The department store was one of the first high street shops to feature collections openly created by well-known designers. Jasper Conran was the first name to participate, launching his J by Jasper Conran range in 1996, and new names include Henry Holland.
Karl Lagerfeld for H&M, 2004
"What I designed was fashion for slender and slim people," said Karl Lagerfeld in 2004 after H&M produced his monochromatic clothes in larger sizes than he wanted. The one-off range still sold out in seconds, though.
Kate Moss for Topshop, 2007-201
In 2007 hundreds up people queued to see a sulky looking Mossy pose in the window of Topshop Oxford Circus. She was paid a reported 3 million, but her latest range is her last complete one.
Patricia Field for Marks & Spencer, 2008
It seemed like such a good idea at the time, Sex and the City was still hot, and its stylist Patricia Field was willing. Unfortunately the disco- inspired wardrobe was a bit risqué for M&S's core shoppers.
Jil Sander for Uniqlo, 2009-present
This ongoing project, started in 2009, changed the face of designer collaborations, as Sander's designs are part of large,ongoing collections. They are also neutral, minimal, and not immediately recognisable.