Friday, 11 November 2011

Versace for H&M 2011: A +1 in the Lisbon Showroom

Work in Process: Versace for H&M 2011

Dear Lisbon Letter Lovers, 

Every November brings with it a feeling of anxiety and excitement, and not because it's time to break out the Autumn/Winter wear and cover up parts of the body that summer simply cannot disguise.  November is the month that H&M pairs up with a cool couture designer of the moment to make the dreams of the masses come true: 

  • A Luxury collection (with capital L) at Fast (with a capital F) fashion prices

Over the years we seen partnerships with the legendary Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney, Comme des Garçons, Matthew Williamson, Jimmy Choo and most recently Lanvin. Each mass-market-luxury-designer-collection has made a boom and consumers simply cannot get enough.  Let's remember them  by taking a look at ad campaigns below:

Lanvin for H&M
Roberto Cavalli for H&M
Jimmy Choo for H&M
Sonia Rykel for H&M

Now the time has come for Versace:

Donatella Versace at the Celebration Runway Launch of Versace for H&M 2011 in NYC

Naturally I felt it was my obligation to find some sort of way of giving readers an insider's perspective of the partnership and the beautiful and exotic pieces we all itching to buy come November 17th.

Thankfully my friends at GQ here in Lisbon were kind enough to allow me to accompany them to the H&M showroom @ Rua Castilho to get a premiere version view of the Versace for H&M 2011 collection and converse with Inês Fontoura, PR and Communication Director of H&M here in Portugal. 

The Versace for H&M 2011 Models at the Launch Runway Show in NYC

  • The Showroom

Upon arriving at the showroom we are immediately left in awe at the absolute beauty of our surrondings. The floors are paved with mahogany, the walls perfect white and the clothes neatly organized on hangers thatlook more like works of art than mass market fast fashion items. The light entering the room makes the colours pop, bringing life to the clothes, reflecting each individual piece's purpose and personality. 

Essentially, the showroom is where H&M superstore goes boutique. There is a clear chic atmosphere that gives the clothes a voice and visually enhances their value. It's every shoppers dream.

(Sushi, champagne and fruit juices are appealingly spread out on a white linen cloth for the press and the tag-alongs to nibble and sip at.)

H&M's SS 2012 Collection

While we marvel at the delights of H&M SS 12 Collection and visually search for the Versace items, Inês Fontoura appears and welcomes us.  
She is of course already acquainted with the GQ team: Rita de la Bletière, journalist, and Eric Ribeiro, stylist

A look of some what confusion runs over her face when her eyes meet mine. Name? Source? All I can say is that I didn't go for the whole "Hello my name is Eurofabulous". "Hi, I'm Catarina, I write for Fabulous Letters from Lisbon" seemed like a more appropriate and professional approach. 

"Fashion Blog?" replies Inês, "Goodness there are just SO many fashion blogs nowadays". I know, its incredibly difficult to keep up with them, let alone compete with them...

Inês Fontoura, PR and Communication Director of H&M in Portugal

Thankfully, Lisbon is still a city where you and your blog can get in most places as +1's and with the help of your good and disgustingly well connected friends.
(Note to the readers: the use of the word disgusting in the above phrase has a positive connotation)

  • The Concept behind the Collection:

Work in Process: Versace for H&M 2011

“Versace’s collection for H&M is a moment in fashion. It is full of strong pieces that stand out, with colours, prints and cuts that are clean and precise. When I think about Versace I think of iconic items. With this collection for H&M we’ve got the essence of Versace." Margareta van den Bosch, creative advisor at H&M.

H&M's Margareta Van Den Bosch and Donatella Versace

The line Donatella Versace has designed for this specific occasion is reminiscent of the early Versace days when Gianni Versace was still alive:

"For the collaboration we’ve brought back from the archives, as well as from more recent collections, some of the icons of Versace" Donatella Versace

Donatella Versace at the Runway Launch Show in NYC

Let's take a look at some of those unforgettable Versace iconic looks and moments that have inspired the collection:
  • Golds and Pleats:
The Glittering Golden Girls.

  • Prints & Prints and more Prints:
The major Supermodels of the 90's are partially responsible for success of Versace
  • Cuts and Shapes that focus on highlighting the Female Form:
(Note: Leather and Latex also play huge role)
Supermodels Christie Turlington, Cindy Crawford and Claudia Schiffer

  • Zips (as well as other adornments) play a huge role in the Versace designs:
Gianni Versace with models Naomi Campbell and Christie Turlington wearing the iconic and contraversial Zip dresses

Other important Versace iconic looks or styles that make up the brand's overall design identity include
  • Studs, Sequins, Golds;
  • Leather or Suede;
  • The key Grecian Motif Daring Cuts.

Kate Moss for Versace SS 09' Ad Campaign sporting some of the styles mentioned above:

    • The Collection

    Essentially what were witnessing in the current Versace for H&M campaign and collection is a recreation of Iconic Versace Trends that were immensely popular in the late 80's and early 90's

    For Women
    Evidence to this statement can be seen all too clearly when examining and comparing the current Versace for H&M 2011 campaign to earlier campaigns produced by the brand almost two decades ago.

     The ad campaigns speak for themselves in terms of similarity:

    Here are a few of the NYC Runway shots of the collection:

    All Runway Photographs are ©DAN & CORINA LECCA

    For Men 

    "Versace’s men’s collection for H&M is a mix of slick tailoring and pieces of extravagant pattern"

    The Runway Fashion Show pictures from NYC do far more justice to the available menswear than my own therefore here you have it. 

    All Runway Photographs are ©DAN & CORINA LECCA

    • Suits
    "Suit jackets and trousers come in either black or pink, while a black tuxedo jacket has metallic tip trims on its pockets, and shirts have metallic wing-tips on the collars".


    • Leather and Studs
    "There’s leather in the men’s collection too, with a quilted leather jacket trimmed with gold studs in the Versace classical Greek pattern, which is repeated down the sides of black cotton shorts and a rolled-sleeve T-shirt":

    • Prints and Velvet
    "Versace’s palm and optical prints are used on T-shirts, as well as on thin-knit cashmere sweaters, while print is also used on velvet bombers, jeans, and even underpants".

    Donatella Versace and Margareta van der Bosch have successfully managed to commercialize Versace emblematic looks of the past into modern-day-wear outfits that are in perfect symphony with the current trends and tastes of young consumers

    Celebrities Chase Crawford and Jessica Alba Front Row of the NYC Fashion Show

    Inês Fontoura couldn't have put her finger on it better: 

    "Consumers will shop these looks just so they can have a piece that transpires Versace. Each look is emblematic of Versace"

    Here is a dress that is truly emblematic of the Versace House designs: 

    It is commonly known that Liz Hurley was a nobody before Gianni Versace dressed her up in this Zip number, putting her on the map as more than just High Grant's girlfriend. 

    • Versace Fun in the Showroom 

    Now that we have discussed and understood the concept behind the collection and become familiar with the styles that inspired its conception, here is a pictorgraphic account of what we saw and felt that stood out in the Showroom:

    GQ's Rita de la Bletière with the Versace for H&M 2011 Collection

    First and foremost, allow me to voice my sincere apologies for the poor photographic skills. Please note however that this is made up for with the choice of my lovely models. A special thank you to the GQ team in the showroom 

    • The Gold Studded Dresses: 
    We think that this dress is going to go out-of-stock far too quickly...

    The yellow is my personal favourite of the entire collection

    In a Nutshell from a visual point of view, the collection comes of as an explosion of color and print:

    Ones feels as though one has ventured into a tropical rainforest of metals and neon colours:

    Note to readers: You may want to put on some sunglasses because the images you see are aggressive to the naked eye

    The Entire Woman's Wear Collection

    The Entire Woman's Wear Collection

    The Studs Up Close
    The Prints Up Close
    •  The Accessories: 

    Did you know that Versace is a pioneer in the Luxury designer H&M parternships to commercialize home pieces? Talk about being a lifestyle brand...

    "Versace’s home pieces for H&M take full advantage of the house’s iconography, with pillows and a bedspread resplendent in the multicolour floral Japanese fan print, bringing the complete Versace lifestyle to H&M."

    Let's take a detailed look at some of the accessories available: 
    •  The Shoes:

    • The Belts

    • The Bracelets

    • The Choker:
    GQ's Eric Ribeiro sporting the Versace Chocker.

    • The Bags:

    Will it be a hit? Inês Fontoura shares her personal & professional opinion: 

    Every single one of the H&M partnerships has been greatly successful. Nontheless, some more than others. "Lanvin was insane, the line started a FNAC", located approximately 500 metres from the main H&M store in Lisbon. 

    It was also Inês' personal favourite. "The style and looks were very feminine and wearable. It was incredibly chic".

    Jimmy Choo was also a major favourite among our local consumers "especially given that the Sex and the City movie had just come out. It was bombastic." 

    Work in Process: Tara Mellon and Margareta van der Bosch Jimmy Choo for H&M

    Inês is of the opinion that Portugal is a country with highly favourable market conditions for these kinds of Luxury-Mass-Market Partnerships:

    "In Portugal we have a very reduced choice of luxury brands".  

    (It's true, we're still getting over the recent opening of Prada and D&G... )

    These collaborations offer consumers "the democratization of luxury". And they love it.


    What would the Communication Director of H&M like to see in the future?

    Partnerships with Dior and Bottega Veneta

    • H&M: The Visionary Mass Market Brand
    H&M has completely revolutionized the fashion industry with its Luxury Collaborations. H&M was the pioneer to implement within a mass market industry a strategy which has been practiced by Luxury brands for some years now: the democratization of luxury

    Armani now manufactures chocolates and flowers. Cavalli has a disco and a café. The kind of expansions create the sensation of a lifestyle which is a less than new strategy in modern times but which has proved to be the key to new business in the future.. 

    And best of all? With these mass-market luxury collaborations everybody wins:

    • H&M is the hero/savior who now more than ever in a time of economic crisis is selling luxury at mass market prices.

    • Luxury brands are charitable enough to give the masses a drop of their design, values and quality.

    • Consumers are satisfied more than ever with both the luxury and mass market parties, feeling fulfilled, holding both H&M and the luxury designer in question close to their hearts for the rest of their lives.


    H&M, and in this case Versace, are both aware that consumers will forever remember them as benefactors who brought some sparkle and shine into their lives, making them feel ok about hitting the high street anytime they need a new outfit. 


    Below you can see some of the Official Campaign Photos. If you see anything you like, you know the drill: 

    Get up at 6:00AM November 17th and make your way to an H&M near you. 

    Be prepared for a long wait in line. But you know how is goes: Being in Fashion has its Price. 

    But to be honest, queuing up seems like a small price to pay for even just the idea of getting my hands on that yellow studded dress.

    The images in this post are property of H&M and Versace. If you wish to read more about the collection visit the Official Press Site.

    Special thanks to Eric Ribeiro, Rita de la Bletière and Inês Fontoura.

    See You Next Autumn

    Lots of Love from Fabulous Lisbon,


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