STREET CHIC Isabel Marant on her new collaboration with H&M.
FWool cardigan, RM499, Isabel Marant for H& M
Isabel Marant rench designer Isabel Marant is the patron saint of go-to pieces. From perfectly fitting tees and sweatshirts to easy, ethnic-inspired dresses and embellished jeans, whatever she creates instantly becomes essential. So, naturally, her first fashion collaboration, a collection for H&M launching November 14, is one of the most anticipated of the season.
Her inspiration, she says, came from her catwalk archive. “It’s a mix-up of my favourite things, pieces you put in your luggage and say, ‘If I lose my suitcase it’s going to be a disaster.’ I figured out what I wouldn’t like to lose, things I never get tired of.” The sentiment comes through in the clothes: T-shirts and sweats, tribal-chic jackets that reference Spring 2010, and delicate embroidered dresses reminiscent of the doily lace numbers from Autumn 2012 all make an appearance. Marant can’t pick just one favourite from among her hits. “It’s like asking which one of my babies I prefer,” she says, laughing. “And my style is also a lot about mixing, so they’re really meant to work together.”
Marant says that the process of working with H&M felt symbiotic. “It was clear from the beginning that we didn’t want to just do a cheap version of Isabel Marant, so we worked around keeping a high level of quality in the fabric and the manufacturing, doing things by hand,” she explains. The partnership offered a chance for the designer to push her creative boundaries. “I’m a big fur lover, but for political reasons H&M doesn’t use it. So I tried to work with a new idea of making something furlike that is not fur, and we did a kind of knitted ‘fur’ in wool, which is super cool.” Picture shaggy sweaters enhanced with loose loops of yarn— oversize and cropped versions that provide the ideal antidote to winter drear.
“I’m very inspired by people I see on the street, both how women are dressed and by their gestures or attitudes.” Music, too, is integral to her design process. “I like to listen to rock to have a tempo and get energy when I’m designing,” she says. “I especially love songs by women, like Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the Kills, PJ Harvey, or Cat Power.” That sensibility is evident in her stageready embroidered jeans, studded shoes, and red leather pants. But it’s more than just rock ’n’ roll. “I try to think of many kinds of women, many different styles,” Marant adds. “I love it when people can create their own look with my clothes and not just be an Isabel Marant robot.” Printed trousers, RM299, Isabel Marant for H& M
Necklace, RM119, Isabel Marant for H& M
Jacket, RM1,299, Isabel Marant for H& M