H&M Unveils Lanvin Collection

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DAVID SIMS for H&M

Women don’t want flowers or diamonds. They want Lanvin.

On Nov. 2 Alber Elbaz, creative director of the French luxury label, released a preview video of his much-anticipated collection for H&M. The line, which ranges from $9.95 for tights to $349 for a coat, includes cheetah-print shoes ($99), zebra-print coats ($199) and plenty of party dresses with asymmetric, puffy shoulders. NewsFeed is partial to the one-shouldered frock with ruffles in yellow ($199, pictured above). The collection hits 200 select H&M stores on Nov. 23. (Read Natalie Portman’s profile of Alber Elbaz in the 2007 TIME 100.)

As the video makes clear, Elbaz hasn’t designed the line exclusively for size zeroes or twentysomethings. One model in the campaign has gray hair—but still knows how to throw down at a hotel dance party—and another proves that fabulous comes in larger sizes, too…even if she is modeling her gown on a treadmill.

Elbaz is quick to explain that working with H&M won’t take Lanvin downmarket.

“I have said in the past that I would never do a mass-market collection, but what intrigued me was the idea of H&M going luxury rather than Lanvin going public,” he said in a statement. “A designer’s work is usually tailored to a very small group of people, but the collection for H&M was about trying to translate the dream of luxury to the masses.” (Read NewsFeed’s List of the most popular fashion houses on Facebook.)

Elbaz follows in the footsteps of Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney, and Sonia Rykiel, who have all collaborated with the Swedish retailer previously.

Since taking the helm at Lanvin in 2001, Elbaz has transformed the brand from a dusty relic—it is France’s longest-surviving fashion house—into a company with truly global reach. Along the way he sparked some of the biggest trends of the past decade—from metallic embellishment to raw edging to bows—and injected playfulness into the frequently froid world of fashion. The mannequins in his stores don’t always stand up straight as they do at more traditional boutiques; instead, they swing on trapezes, dance around polls and strike other decidedly saucy poses.

That items in the Lanvin for H&M collection will come in a variety of sizes surely reflects H&M’s mass-market strategy. At the same time, though, it may stem from Elbaz’s personal understanding of what it means to be bigger—and his ability to work with that. As he told the New Yorker in 2009. “I am overweight, so I am very, very aware of what to show and what not to show, and I am sure there is a huge link with being an overweight designer and the work I do,” he said. “My fantasy is to be skinny, you see?” (Read “Reverse Photoshopping: New Photo Meme Fattens Up The Celebs.”)

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