Parisian fashion houses like to be inclusive just about as much as fish like fishermen. Luxury brands function to financially nudge out the working class citizen; some will go so far as to burn their merchandise rather than sell it at a semi-affordable price point. However, in recent history, Parisian fashion houses are beginning to ditch their only-the-richest attitude in favor of collaborating with mass-market retailers. Isabel Marant partnered with H&M in 2013 to debut a more palatably priced collection. Two years later Balmain followed in suit. Most recently, on November 3, Parisian fashion house KENZO launched their collection in collaboration with H&M.
The collection debuted to a website crash. The server could not support the trove of fans salivating at the thought of wearing a KENZO piece, both kidneys intact. Those who wanted to own a piece from the collection had to wait in line — and many did. Some dedicated frugal fans, with stars in their eyes (perhaps, in part, from the dizzying-kaleidoscopic nature of the collection), queued in front of stores well over 12 hours before the doors actually opened.
Was the wait worth it? Check their shopping bag. The collection, while well representative of the brand, was not consistent. Some pieces were excellent, others far from it. Kenzo stayed true to their acid-trip-jungle-adventure aesthetic; the pieces were just as vibrant and print-heavy as always. The prices were tamed, the looks were not. The designers, Carol Lim and Humberto Leon, played with now ubiquitous trends, like exaggerated ruffles and prairie-inspired designs, in novel ways. As a result, many pieces were equal parts cool and cutting edge. Those less inclined to adopt high-fashion aesthetics were not ignored. The brand made sure to pander to its streetwear fans with some simple, yet eye catching, sweatshirts and hats.
But among the dynamic, fashion forward pieces sure to allure thrifty fashionistas lurked looks that seem better suited for another, younger, crowd. Some pieces were astoundingly juvenile — they look as if they were pulled straight off the body of the punkest kid on the playground. Throw on a Yo-Gabba-Gabba hat and you’ve got yourself a cohesive look. The combination of inexpensive textiles with electric print proved fatal in many pieces. Some pieces are so youthful they’re practically unwearable. Fuzzy animal print, in conjunction with pattern and color mixing, is harder to pull off if you’ve passed 6th grade.
While the collection housed many dynamic pieces, it was not as strong as H&M designer collaborations of the past — but that won’t stop you from seeing KENZO x H&M litter your local streets.