PARIS — Alber Elbaz said H&M’s “democratic” nature — bringing design to a broader public — convinced him to do a onetime collection with the Swedish fashion giant.

This story first appeared in the September 3, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.


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“I love the idea of H&M going luxury,” Elbaz said. “I really wanted to try the whole idea of brand, and not just a dress for less.…It’s about creating a dream and giving it to people who couldn’t afford Lanvin. We thought it was a very relevant move.”

On Thursday, H&M confirmed a WWD report and said the Lanvin for H&M line for women and men would arrive in 200 stores on Nov. 23.


Elbaz said he, along with Lanvin men’s wear designer Lucas Ossendrijver, conceived a collection to appeal to all ages and sizes, and one that spans clothing, jewelry, hats, sunglasses, handbags, footwear and even lipstick.

“It’s very Lanvin. It’s very much our world, our aesthetic,” Elbaz said. “It’s all the pieces we’ve done yesterday and not pieces we will do tomorrow.”

An H&M spokeswoman said prices would be in line with other designer collaborations, which typically unleash pandemonium, and rapid sellouts, when the merchandise hits the retail floor. Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney, Roberto Cavalli, Sonia Rykiel, Victor & Rolf and Jimmy Choo have all collaborated with H&M and popularized high-low tie-ups across the industry.

The Lanvin effort — spanning dresses, coats and eveningwear — will be unveiled on Nov. 2 via a short film by “Leaving Las Vegas” director Mike Figgis, to be posted on H&M’s Web site.

A new H&M unit at the Forum Shops at Caesars in Las Vegas is among the locations slated to showcase the Lanvin line, housed in a shop environment created by Elbaz. An opening event for the Vegas unit is planned for Nov. 19, with the Lanvin collection going on sale the next day, ahead of the rest of the world.

In an interview, Elbaz mused on how the fast-fashion juggernaut has altered the fashion system, quickening the pace and making the high street an “important” force to be reckoned with.

“I realize more and more we need high fashion in order to have the high street,” he said. “It’s important to maintain both.”

Elbaz said he’s alarmed by the “rapidity” of fashion and the proliferation of collections, yet he acknowledged, “when you work with urgency, there’s a lot of electricity.”

Elbaz said he did not travel to Stockholm, where H&M is headquartered, so as not to arouse suspicions about a Lanvin collaboration.

Earlier this week, H&M posted a series of videos on its social networking page and on YouTube to fan curiosity about its next guest designer. It depicted a range of male and female fashion types, yet the voice-over, despite digital manipulation, was a dead giveaway for Elbaz, whose musings on design, women and creating desire are unmistakable.

“The idea was bringing fun to fashion again,” Elbaz said.

Besides the Figgis film, David Sims shot a fashion campaign that will also build anticipation for the holiday selling event.