High-End Labels Hook Up With More Proletarian Stores

Considering the only piece of clothing I’ve purchased in the past three months is a $6 men’s Chewbacca shirt from Target, things are looking up again for autumn.

Though it was once considered an every-once-in-a-while treat, upscale fashion houses you’d never be able to afford are now accepting high-end-meets-high-street collaborations as commonplace . . . and even great marketing moves. While Chanel is busy raising prices to exorbitant, out-of-reach Hermès levels, most every major storefront now offers customers opportunities to purchase items with labels they could previously only salivate over in fashion mags.

Here are three collaborations to look forward to:

No designer is more endearing and adorable than Lanvin’s artistic director, Alber Elbaz. While others in the fashion world seem cold and, well, nearly inhuman (see Karl Lagerfeld’s “No one wants to see curvy women.You’ve got fat mothers with their bags of chips sitting in front of the television and saying that thin models are ugly”), the shy, rotund, oversized, bowtie-wearing Elbaz is one of us.Whether it was contemplating pancakes over fruit salad at breakfast during a New Yorker interview, or the obvious self-hatred he battles with when it comes to his weight, Elbaz spends his time making others feel and look beautiful. Add a nearly flawless track record, and it’s Elbaz who should have vinyl dolls and T-shirts paying homage to him.

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Luckily for us, Lanvin’s collaboration with H&M will appear in select stores on Nov. 20. While he has been quoted in the past as saying he’d never do such a mass-market production, he claims that what really drew him in was the idea of H&M going luxury.

“This has been an exceptional exercise,” Elbaz says, “where two companies at opposite poles can work together because we share the same philosophy of bringing joy and beauty to men and women around the world.”


This one has been happening for a while, but when images of Pierre Cardin’s women’s fall footwear first leaked last year, people buzzed: lace-up wedges and boots with a splash of bold mustard yellow. The great news is the cute peep-toe, black, lace-up wedges just arrived in stores this week for $195. The really bad news, though, is the three other styles that were tons better than the lace-up wedges never made it to production.


Project Runway Season Four winner Christian Siriano is back for another round with Payless Shoes. The designs for his spring 2011 collection have yet to be released, but last autumn’s architectural pumps and ankle boots—which went from $25 to $45—keep me hopeful.


This column appeared in print as "Fall Into High-End Labels."

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