It was an odd yet bewitching sight to see a horde of celebrities all dressed up to the nines entering a rather derelict-looking premises in New York City, the run-down 5 Beekman Street, to attend a fashion event. But then the choice of venue was deliberately eccentric, for this was the unveiling of H&M's latest collection which had been created in collaboration with iconoclastic visionary Maison Martin Margiela.
Julianne Moore, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kanye West, Helena Christensen, Selma Blair, Alan Cumming and Chace Crawford were just some of the household names who turned up for the star-studded party and some of them were already sporting numbers from the MMM for H&M line, a partnership that had been kept very hush-hush for some time, apparently. Of course you can't expect every soul to keep a secret that juicy, so some leaked pictures did appear online over the past few months, but this only served to tantalise fashionistas and make them anticipate even more eagerly their first glimpse of the fruits of this unlikely partnership, which will go on sale in stores worldwide on Nov 15.
Why Maison Martin Margiela? The answer, said Margareta van den Bosche, creative advisor to H&M, is quite simple: the two brands share the same philosophy in terms of the egalitarian approach they like to adopt when developing new ideas.
Margareta van den Bosche
"I'm the spokesperson and I speak for the H&M team. We all do this together. That's how Margiela also speaks: they promote the team instead of just one designer," she said, referring to the collective approach favoured by MMM, which is unusual in this era of autocratic star designers.
Released for the autumn/winter season, the MMM for H&M collection is the second cross-pollination involving major designers this year, following the launch of the Marni collaboration in February.
Like all its predecessors _ from Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney and Comme des Garcons to Lanvin and Versace _ this collection comes in limited quantities so the sight of fans queuing to purchase items will become commonplace.
Thanks to his vision and conceptual flair, the Belgian designer who has been credited with inventing some unique pieces, is well known even to students taking their first steps into the world of clothing design. The items in this new collection are new versions (termed "re-editions") of iconic Margiela clothes and accessories reincarnated with less expensive materials than were used for the original pieces. The MMM founder's collaboration with H&M plays with fashionistas' yearning to possess all these "archive pieces", some of which will undoubtedly end up locked in museums.
"With these Maison Martin Margiela re-editions, some of the most important garments in recent fashion history will be made available at H&M. The pieces are incredibly accurate
[reproductions of] the original and prove how the most radical concept can result in fashion that is both desirable and wearable," Van den Bosche enthused.
The most appealing aspect of this launch was the surprise element. It was a masterful idea to throw a party for A-list celebrities in a deserted, unfinished building at which passers-by would not normally take a second glance. For the raw, somewhat dilapidated edge suggested by 5 Beekman Street reflects the decon-and-recon approach taken by this creative collaboration which has transformed ordinary, everyday items into something with a wow factor.
The 103-piece collection brings selected designs from MMM's past back to life under five themes: Shape & Volume; Oversized; Process of Tailoring; Ambiguity; and Transformation. Van den Bosche summed up the concept, thus: "Playing with the clothes, playing with the classics, putting things together in a different way."
Nothing speaks for the Shape & Volume category better than the Adjusted Biker jacket, a masculine-shaped top that has been tailored to fit the female frame. The seams have been opened up and reassembled, with the surplus leather very fashionably visible.
One style that is certainly coming back into fashion, Van den Bosche remarked _ an element which seems to have been part of MMM's DNA all along _ is oversized proportions. Add in a bit of fun and what you get is a reminiscences about the good times of childhood: enlarged Child's Toy sweaters that look like blown-up versions of items borrowed from Ken's and Barbie's wardrobes. Accessories are also outsize, such as the Enlarged Watch Frame and Enlarged Key Ring bracelets.
Margiela's trademark deconstruction comes in the signature exposed stitching seen in the Reversed Denim Jacket, with all surfaces within the seams being reversed, which also references another key theme in this collection _ Process of Tailoring.
The Ambiguity theme is conveyed through the use of trompe l'oeil. In other words, it isn't at all what you initially think it is. The flesh-coloured, tight-fitting shirt with integrated black brassiere makes you look like you're wearing a bra _ and nothing else, while the Invisible Wedge pumps, with transparent plexiglass wedges, make it seem like you're wearing ballet flats, but standing on tiptoe!
The most prevalent theme in this collection, seeping into more items than other themes do, is Transformation. Achieved through deconstructing, reconstructing and assembling, it offers a new use and shape to otherwise typical objects and materials, such as belts, socks and car-seat covers, even. Parts of several ordinary jackets were fused into one, ignoring or embracing, rather, the obvious differences in colour and texture.
The superstar in the accessories section has to be the Candy Clutch _ a shiny, metallic clutch bag created in the shape of a sweet wrapper; it's available in both silver and pink. The latter variant is actually the most vibrant item in the whole collection in which the dominant hues are shades of white, black, red, nudes and silver. Bright colours are not much in evidence elsewhere in the collection, apart from on a horizontally worn dress (which also comes in blue) and some flashes of red here and there.
About the author
- Writer: Napamon Roongwitoo
Position: Outlook Writer