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PARIS — “Ring Christmas bells, merrily bling.”
That could be the theme music for H&M this holiday season, with a jewelry collection by Solange Azagury-Partridge headlining the Swedish fashion giant’s message of luxury gifts at affordable prices.
The London-based fine jewelry specialist, who gained wider recognition as creative director of Boucheron from 2001 to 2004, applied her design sensibility to the 40-piece collection, slated to arrive in some 400 H&M stores in 21 countries on Nov. 25.
“It’s not precious, but it still has that shimmer, glow and tinkle that people love about jewelry,” she said during an exclusive preview of the line, which features a ring with swaying chains and another with loose stones rattling in a tiny metal cage.
Jörgen Andersson, H&M’s marketing director, said he was attracted by Azagury-Partridge’s irreverent, light-hearted approach to her fine jewelry pieces — which can run up to 100,000 British pounds, or $175,000, at her Notting Hill shop.
While price constraints were paramount at H&M — keeping things under 20 euros, or about $25 — Azagury-Partridge said she felt plenty inspired. “They wanted a red Christmas. I got very excited by that because red’s my favorite color,” she said.
Red metal, which the designer had previously only seen used for keys, forms the base of the collection, with lattices of chains made into dramatic bracelets and chains. A hair clip, pendants and chokers round out the line.
The collection has plenty of spunk: sparkling dog and cat collars, diamante-encrusted wedge shoes and a travel kit that includes tasseled “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” earplugs and an eye mask sporting red diamante eyes “so you look very beautiful with your mouth lolling open,” Azagury-Partridge said with a laugh.
The designer tapped photographer Solve Sundsbo and model Jessica Stam to shoot an ad campaign, designed red Perspex gift boxes for the jewelry and will appoint designated selling areas with circular red carpets and mirrored balls.
Andersson said collaborations like the ones with Azagury-Partridge or Stella McCartney or the Elio Fiorucci poolside collection sold over the summer help H&M differentiate itself from other High Street chains by surprising the customer and injecting excitement into its stores. “Hopefully, people will go into H&M because it’s fun,” he said.
This story first appeared in the November 11, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Andersson said jewelry, while in all 1,160 doors, is not a “significant” business for H&M. However, he deemed the Azagury-Partridge collaboration timely given that “accessories and jewelry are very much in fashion. It feels right for the moment.”
The Solange jewelry will be promoted with giant outdoor billboards, print advertising and a special section in the H&M holiday catalogue. The baubles will also be featured alongside normal assortments in a Christmas television campaign Andersson described as “red and bling-bling. It should feel like an integrated part of the H&M Christmas.”
He said he does not expect the same immediate sellout that occurred a year ago when the Karl Lagerfeld for H&M collection arrived in stores or Thursday when the new Stella McCartney line arrived, but the objective is to have stocks of Solange jewelry depleted by Christmas.
“This kind of collaboration is unexpected and fun,” he said. “I think that’s vital for being a fashion retailer today.”