ELLE reviews H&M’s debut Paris Fashion Week show

By Emma Sells

'H&M is so well known for its designer collaborations, but this season we wanted to showcase our own design team - to show what we ourselves can do,' enthused Ann Sofie Johansson, creative director of the Swedish high street giant at a preview of the label's first on-schedule catwalk show.

As outfitters to a hefty chunk of Europe’s fashion consumers, H&M might well feel entitled to take the leap onto the high fashion stage, joining Topshop in narrowing that chasm between high end and high street.

And by staging their show in the Musee Rodin – previously the setting for shows like Yves Saint Laurent and Dior – they're leaving nobody in any doubt as to their breadth of influence. The team has been working on the collection for five months, 'aiming to pitch ourselves a little higher than normal but still staying within the H&M price bracket,' explained Johansson. So there are pieces like a heavy laser-cut wool skirt with a rich embroidery, a pair of spangly disco-pants or even a weighty woollen pea coat that definitely deviate from the fast fashion norm.

'We were thinking not of one girl but of a group of girls,' mused Johansson flicking through the clothes on the rails, 'they're the girls everyone wants to be, nabbing heirloom pieces from their grandmother's wardrobe, mixing them with things they've borrowed from their boyfriends, but most of all swapping and exchanging with each other.'

Not a bad result when your group of girls includes Cara Delevingne, Isabeli Fontana, Arizona Muse and Joan Smalls, who stormed the runway in this fantasy mishmash of modern girl's wardrobes: little ornate velvet boleros, diaphanous bias-cut gowns paired with thick fisherman sweaters, little beaded dresses with over the knee boots.

It's not going to shatter any codes or lay down any new rules, but this collection is full of pieces that women and girls the world over will want to wear. After all, H&M doesn't sell concepts, it sells product - fast. And when these 30 looks come on sale on September 5th, nobody's going to be analyzing their meaning. They're going to be buying, shopping, sharing with their friends.
Just like Ann-Sofie Johansson imagined.

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