Patrick Michael Hughes
Early Saturday November 19th the doors opened at H&M for the heavily advertised and eagerly anticipated ‘The Very Best of Versace for H&M.’ This was the latest capsule collection collaboration with a prestigious fashion brand.
At the time of his murder in 1997 Gianni Versace was hailed as The King of Glitz and The Master of Brash, and was the defining brand of new money glamour. Iconic Versace fashion flaunted conspicuous color, ombre leopard prints, medusa heads, and gold classical key patterns. It was announced in many press releases that the house would mine its archive for the collection at H&M, but take note of the strong heritage brand marketing trend in retail over the past few years. Many brands such as LL Bean and J Crew have created whole collections and free standing retail boutiques around this concept.
Vibrant Versace branding has an instantly identifiable street presence. Shopping bags for the Versace-H&M Collection created the dazzling eye-candy that was flashed along 5th Ave. and 51st Street. The bag re-creates the look of the wealthy new elite of the 1990’s and is the must-have look of the moment for the savvy reduction shopper of 2011. The shopping bag came in a variety of sizes and colors, like ombre aqua blues emblazoned with golden Versace logos or canary yellow with neon pink ombre sunsets, palm leaves and leopard spots, each adorned with a shiney black rayon satin ribbon.
The hyper-glam retro print was boldly highlighted against a variety of street looks ranging from suburban style sweat pants tucked into UGG boots to conspicuous white fur- lined suede maxi coats, from chic black leather biker jackets to distressed jeans with Chuck Taylors. Such juxtapositions bring to mind a fashion observation about 1980s New York ‘bag ladies’ by Rei Kawakubo of Comme de Garçons: Who is chic? Perhaps this is the latest translation of what the Japanese refer to as wabi-sabi – beauty as synonymous with the imperfect, impermanent and the incomplete. Is the reduction shopper of diluted designer fashion the ‘bag person chic’ of 2011?
The look was a mix of consumption and utility, the excessive and the glamorous- in short it was a very nouveau Gianni Versace fashion moment.