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PARIS — The Material Girl likes cheap and chic as much as couture.
At least, that is the inference to be made after Hennes & Mauritz on Thursday said the high-voltage singer and her dancers — decked out in Jean Paul Gaultier regalia on stage — would wear the Swedish firm’s clothes off stage for the remainder of her “Confessions” world tour. This confirms a WWD report June 2 that a deal was brewing between Madonna and H&M.
In addition to wearing H&M, Madonna has collaborated on a “specially designed Madonna tracksuit” that will be sold in H&M stores starting in mid-August.
The singer and her troupe will trumpet the association in an advertising campaign that is scheduled to break in August. H&M declined to name the photographer of the campaign.
“Partnering with H&M feels like a perfect fit,” Madonna said in a statement. “We’ll all get to express ourselves in our own individual ways. The dancers and I are excited to go shopping together.”
The tie-up is the latest of H&M’s high-profile associations aimed to generate buzz and elevate the firm’s image for inexpensive, trendy clothes to higher levels of creativity. In the last two years, H&M has worked with Karl Lagerfeld and Stella McCartney on popular one-off fashion collections that brought droves of shoppers into the stores.
Perpetuating that strategy, Dutch designers Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren, two of fashion’s most conceptual minds, were hired to design a collection that will be introduced in H&M stores this fall.
Working with a celebrity of Madonna’s caliber signals that H&M is willing to take its strategy for publicity-generating ploys into new territory.
“This is a thrill for H&M,” the retailer’s head of design, Margareta van den Bosch, said in a statement. “Aside from being great fans of Madonna’s music and fashion sense, we admire her ability to always be ahead of the trends in everything she does. We look forward to seeing how her touring family translates H&M’s seasonal trends to their own personal looks.”
This story first appeared in the June 9, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
But while H&M has been generating lots of buzz recently with its one-off collaborations, sales have decelerated. Comparable-store sales advanced a slower-than-expected 1 percent in April, after falling 8 percent in March.
The Madonna operation should give H&M momentum during the apex of summer, even as it faces increasingly stiff competition from the likes of Zara and Mango, both based in Spain.
An H&M spokeswoman said Madonna and her performers had been supplied with one H&M outfit so far: a T-shirt, a hooded jacket and jeans. The ensembles carry the label: “Madonna + Crew Loves H&M,” the spokeswoman said.
She added that Madonna and her dancers would choose clothes on two upcoming occasions, in New York and in London, to complete their wardrobes.
As for the tracksuit, Madonna met with members of H&M’s creative studio to discuss its design. “Madonna was part of the process of its creation,” said the spokeswoman.
The H&M effort isn’t Madonna’s first link with fashion. Apart from appearing on red carpets the world over, the singer has appeared in ad campaigns for Versace and Gap.
Madonna’s appearance in an H&M ad isn’t the first time the Swedish retailer has used a high-profile personality in its campaigns. Past ads in Europe have included actors Chloë Sevigny, Geena Davis, Johnny Depp and Gary Oldman.