By  on May 11, 2005

PARIS — For the second time in her fashion career, Stella McCartney will be following in Karl Lagerfeld's footsteps.

WWD has learned that McCartney, who succeeded Lagerfeld as Chloe's designer in 1997, will attempt to fill his formidable shoes again by collaborating with Swedish fashion giant Hennes & Mauritz, which unleashed pandemonium last year with a Lagerfeld for H&M holiday collection that retailed from $19.90 to $149.

A 40-stockkeeping-unit Stella McCartney for H&M women's collection is expected to arrive in H&M stores across Europe and North America in time for holiday selling. An official announcement is expected as early as today.

The tie-up is bound to be a publicity coup for both parties. McCartney's rock 'n' roll heritage, celebrity connections and youth appeal are bound to bring new cachet and customers to the purveyor of affordable chic.

Meanwhile, H&M, which invested heavily in a major television and outdoor campaign to back Lagerfeld's effort, should bolster brand awareness for McCartney, who has had limited advertising muscle, given the small size of her company. (Revenues for the fiscal year ended Jan. 31 were expected to total about 30 million euros, or $38.7 million at current exchange.)

Also, since she's facing a 2007 deadline to reach breakeven set by Gucci Group, which owns 50 percent of her London-based house, the collaboration should bring much-needed synergies for her signature collection, three flagships and her hot cobranded activewear line with Adidas.

H&M is believed to have done consumer research to confirm the widespread appeal of the McCartney brand. Executives at H&M's Stockholm headquarters are said to have long admired McCartney's designs, which are cool, feminine and wearable.

The $7.3 billion juggernaut, which has helped transform the retail landscape with its design-for-all credo, has been on a roll recently with buzz-generating initiatives. Last month, it spent millions to stage a gigantic fashion extravaganza and concert in New York's Central Park, sending 150 models down the runway to showcase its fall and winter trends.

And its pace of collaborations seems to be picking up. Last month, H&M said it had teamed up with Italian designer Elio Fiorucci to design a 100-item line of clothes and accessories for poolside that are slated for delivery next month in about 1,000 stores.

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