>> Interesting... H&M, the Swedish fashion giant, has just enlisted Ms. Stella McCartney to design about 40 women's pieces, which will debut around November, reports Women's Wear Daily and CNNMoney. Ms. Stella will be following in the footsteps of Karl Lagerfeld of Chanel fame, who collaborated with H&M for a line offered last November which sold out within 2 days of its debut. This seems to be a trend for Ms. Stella, who is just coming off a successful line for Adidas, which, we must say, had some breathtaking pieces (the smc bra top on the right, anyone?), especially considering the usual attractiveness factor of exercise wear. Ms. Stella is going to have her hands full, what with her own fashion house to run, the new H&M line, and a new 99-piece collection for Adidas due out August 17th in Europe and Asia.
What's most interesting about the whole deal (besides the imminence of designer clothes for H&M prices - read:cheap) is the emerging trend of high-end designers working with low-end retailers, going from class to mass. There's Stella, Karl, and Italian designer Elio Fiorucci, all for H&M, Isaac Mizrahi for Target, Stella and Yohji Yamamoto for Adidas, various designers for the British Topshop, Jean Paul Gaultier for the French La Redoute...and we're sure there's more to come. Yeah, you say, but Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein, among others, have had low-priced lines for some time now.
So what's the big diff? Well, first of all, Target and H&M designer prices are a good bit cheaper than the prices at which Ralph Lauren and CK sell. Second of all, in our eyes, and we would venture to say the general public's as well, CK and Ralph Lauren don't even compare to the level at which Chanel or even Stella stand. In some ways, we feel like they're selling out. It's not like Chanel needs the publicity to attract more clientele - those who can afford the luxuries buy them, and those who cannot know about their presence anyway. Karl is extremely well-established in the fashion industry, so the only half-way decent reason we can think of to explain his partnership with H&M is to boost his ego. After that stint, he guaranteed himself to be a household name. As for Ms. Stella, it's more understandable - she has until 2007 to reach the break-even set by the Gucci Group, which owns half of her London-based house. A little publicity couldn't hurt her.
In any case, we've always seen high fashion as an art form - some of those outfits you see walking down the runway are just not practical for everyday wear (like the one on the left from a Cortana runway show in Barcelona). But that's what makes them interesting - they're fun to look at. If the art form is copied and mass-distributed, it simply loses its charm. If everyone has one, what is there left to admire? We understand that the quality and time that goes into the haute couture will never be affordable for $20 at Target, but it's the principal of things. People go to the shows every season to see the new and original, not what they've already seen before. We just think the designers should be careful about blurring the borders between mainstrain retailers and fashion houses too much.
On that note, we want to say that Ms. Stella McCartney has pleasantly surprised us. For a while, we really doubted that Beatle Paul McCartney's daughter had any real cred in the big, bad world of fashion. But with the Adidas line, as well as her house lines, we have seen the error of our ways (Isn't the dress on the right from her Autumn 2005 line beautiful?). So we look forward to what she can do in the future with H&M and Adidas, since that's the way it's gonna be. Don't let us down, Ms. Stella.