One is an American mass-market clothing chain known for its basic T-shirts and loose-fitting khaki trousers. The other is a French-born fashion designer famed for cantilevering the curves of Scarlett Johansson and other starlets into his show-stopping frocks.
Yesterday Gap and Roland Mouret unveiled the latest coupling of high fashion and the high street, a collection of 10 dresses, on sale from next Tuesday, which is guaranteed to cause the commotion that has met recent designer collaborations in the UK. It is the first such project for both Gap and Mouret.
The choice of dresses as opposed to any other garment is judicious. Mouret's famous 1950s-style Galaxy dress, as worn on the red carpet by Johansson, Victoria Beckham and Rachel Weisz, was priced at £800 and caused lengthy waiting lists at the few outlets that stocked it.
By contrast the frocks in the Gap collaboration, many of which feature details recognisable as Mouret's work, such as the Galaxy's folded cap-sleeve, are priced at £48 to £78 and will be sold in all Gap stores nationwide and a handful of branches in New York. Three red designs will be sold as part of the charitable RED initiative, with 50 per cent of profits going to organisations fighting Aids in Africa.
"I love the Gap concept but, for me, their dresses weren't that strong - but dresses are my strong point, so I brought some of my details to them," said Mouret yesterday after posing with models wearing three of his designs at the launch in London.
The collaboration is the first project Mouret has undertaken since exiting his own company a year ago, in the process losing the right to design under his own name. In September, Mouret announced a new label, called 19RM. It has the financial backing of the pop impresario Simon Fuller of 19 Management, the man behind the Spice Girls and Pop Idol.
Neither Mouret nor Stephen Sunnucks, the president of Gap Europe, yesterday ruled out further collaborations. Early reactions from the industry suggest it to be a successful match.
"Roland Mouret, because of the popularity of the Galaxy dress, is pretty well known by anyone interested in fashion for his dresses. It also drives new footfall into the store from dedicated fashion followers rather than just loyal Gap ones," said Maureen Hinton, a retail analyst with Verdict.
The Gap collection will go head to head with a designer collaboration due to launch the same week, as H&M unveils its collection with the Dutch designer duo Viktor & Rolf. The Swedish retailer grabbed the headlines when it hired the Chanel couturier Karl Lagerfeld in 2004, and then Stella McCartney in 2005, to design one-off collections at bargain prices.Last month Topshop announced a spring 2007 collaboration with Kate Moss.Reuse content