Once upon a time there was a sad, blonde bombshell all alone in her hotel room with nothing to wear except racy lingerie, a silk dressing gown, some pearls and red lipstick. There’s a knock on her door. Gasp! Her chiseled-face beau appears with a few dozen pink roses in an attempt to win her heart or at least to make Natasha Poly smile. But she wants nothing of it; she sizes him up and slams the door in his face. She looks down; a thought bubble pops out of her head: “I want Lanvin, not flowers”.
Such goes the video campaign for the latest haute couture-meets-fast-fashion collaboration, Lanvin for H&M. In reality, however, Lanvin won’t be delivered to your hotel door. Instead, shoppers will line up at the crack of dawn on November 23rd to get their hands on Alber Elbaz’s collection made just for me and you; and him, and her, and for them. Testing our so-called individuality, the collection asks shoppers two things: could you wear an over-the-top, ruffled, flower print dress and more importantly, could you bear to see hundreds of other girls in the same number?
If your answer to both of these questions is ‘yes’ then you’re exactly the smart shopper the collaboration is appealing to. You appreciate the femininity and decadence in Lanvin’s design scheme: the ribbons, the ruffles, the shoes with embellishments galore, the leopard prints, and the chiffon, oh, the chiffon! Lanvin makes every day prom; H&M makes Lanvin ‘everyday’. It would appear that for us normal people who appreciate extraordinary design, but whose bank accounts are still very normal, purchasing a few pieces from the collection is a great compromise.
But is it the only compromise? Talking with my friend, Salem Moussallem, Canadian fashion designer and stylist, we discuss why we won’t be waiting in line with all the die-hards on that cold, crisp dawn. His fail-proof strategy is to “wait a few weeks for when the returns start trickling in”: a nice tip from an H&M staffer he befriended at a photo shoot or cocktail party, and he’ll get his hands on the pretty pieces we were all too late to grab.
For those of us who feel unsettlingly uncomfortable lining up for the same dress – we perhaps found the part in the video campaign where two models wearing the exact same dress strut towards each other uttering “Ohmygod” on loop as they face-off for fashion supremacy, a little too tongue-in-cheek. That’s O.K. though because we’re usually the same people who, just out of curiosity (or to confirm our initial suspicious), will pop our heads into our local H&M a few weeks later only to find one rack of Lanvin fare, the few pieces hanging showcasing concealer-stains in size 22. So much for that!
In the day of inevitable fashion collaborations that prove branding to be stronger than ever, there’s not much we can do to stop the frenzy. Either you line up for Lanvin or you don’t; either you wear the same dress as another girl or you don’t.