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The high-low col­lab you need to have this fall.

Elle (Canada) - - Contents - By Amy Verner

f you con­sider that H&M broke word of its col­lab­o­ra­tion with Bal­main at the Bill­board Mu­sic Awards ear­lier this year and of­fered the press a sneak peek dur­ing the fall haute-cou­ture fash­ion shows in Paris, you get a sense of the glitz and glam­our that fac­tor into this par­tic­u­lar un­der­tak­ing. Af­ter last year’s H&M col­lab fea­tur­ing Alexan­der Wang’s high­oc­tane ath­letic gear, the Bal­main of­fer­ing revs up the chic, to say noth­ing of the ca­chet. You can safely con­clude that Bal­main x H&M—with its thigh-high boots, de­voré-vel­vet tops, green se­quined minidresses and the pièce-de-ré­sis­tance body-con num­ber cov­ered with the French house’s sig­na­ture em­broi­dery—marks the most deca­dent col­lec­tion to date.

It may also be the most so­cial­me­dia savvy, thanks to Bal­main’s cre­ative di­rec­tor, Olivier Rouste­ing, whose In­sta­gram fol­low­ing is 1.2 mil­lion strong. The house it­self counts even more—over 2 mil­lion—and let’s not for­get H&M’s 9.3 mil­lion fol­low­ers. Ever since the an­nounce­ment, the hash­tag # hm­bal­main na­tion has served to fuel the hype and un­der­score Rouste­ing’s goal of grow­ing his “Bal­main army” into a global union of wear­ers.

I’m in Paris to chat with Rouste­ing, and we’re seated in a sa­lon or­na­mented with elab­o­rate mould­ings not un­like the ro­coco em­bel­lish­ments on dresses worn most fa­mously by Rouste­ing’s BFF Kim Kar­dashian. She and her pals Bey­oncé, Ri­hanna, Kendall Jen­ner and Jour­dan Dunn have con­trib­uted to Bal­main’s de­sir­abil­ity since the de­signer as­sumed his role in 2011 (at the re­mark­able age of 25). As he sees it, “You don’t just want the clothes; you want to be part of the Bal­main world.” But for a teen who “grew up with H&M” and hap­pened to be work­ing at Roberto Cavalli at the time of the Ital­ian house’s col­lab­o­ra­tion with H&M, the de­signer seems sen­si­tive to at­tain­abil­ity—even if the mo­ment will come and go in a flash. “For me, it was im­por­tant that, for once in their lives, [my fans] could get a piece of the Bal­main dream,” he says sin­cerely.

Ann-Sofie Jo­hans­son, cre­ative ad­viser for H&M, says that the trans­la­tion of Bal­main’s cou­ture-level de­tail pre­sented pro­duc­tion chal­lenges. “We do bead­ing our­selves but not to this ex­tent,” she notes in a sep­a­rate con­ver­sa­tion. The em­broi­deries were done in In­dia, where, she says, the sup­pli­ers were able to in­ter­pret the hand­i­craft with im­pres­sive re­sults. This means that some pieces will be higher priced and more lim­ited in avail­abil­ity, but the good news is that mo­tor­cy­cle jeans, logo tees, flat boots and tai­lored blaz­ers re­main ac­ces­si­ble. (And here’s a hint: Shop the men’s col­lec­tion for some sharp cross­over looks.)

“I know Olivier wants this to be the most suc­cess­ful col­lab­o­ra­tion,” says Jo­hans­son. She laughs and then adds, “He is con­stantly ask­ing us ‘Do you think there will be lines out­side? Do you think it will sell?’” As if. His na­tion ea­gerly awaits. n

Clock­wise, from bot­tom: Me­tal choker ($119); vis­cose and elas­tane dress ($79.99); leather, cot­ton and me­tal san­dals ($199); suede bag ($299); brass, glass and plas­tic ear­rings ($39.99); silk and vel­vet dress ($649). In stores on Novem­ber 5 (hm.com)

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