High-street meets haute couture with H&M's latest collaboration

The Swedish high street giant has teamed up with couturier Giambattista Valli

 

Giambattista Valli x H&M, the highly-anticipated collection between the Italian-born, Paris-based couturier and the Swedish high street retailer goes on sale November 7th. Gargantuan tulle, detailed embellishment and intricate embroidery are all mainstays of collections delivered by Giambattista Valli, of which have – until now – been only at the reach of the rich and famous. Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez, Celine Dion and Nicole Kidman are all fans. 

But for those who don’t share an A-list bank balance, Valli is bringing his haute couture sensibilities at a fraction of their usual couture costings – think four to five figures for a dress – to the high street. 

This will be the 19th collection in a stellar roll-call of designer collaborations with H&M. Gaining notoriety for their annual fashion fest, the high-street store began their collaborative collections in 2004 with Karl Lagerfeld, and have enlisted the design prowess of Isabel Marant, Stella McCartney, Erdem, Versace and Balmain since.

This year Valli – who is more accustomed to showcasing his high-end wares of frothy, glamorous gowns at fashion week – is tasked with merging haute couture with high street. 

Speaking at the launch in Rome last week, Valli insisted he approached the edit in the exact same way he does his couture collections. Bringing the ebullient spirit and design signatures of the house to the collection all while attempting to change consumer habits: “I just wanted something that shows people can really collect a Giambattista Valli for H&M piece and have in their wardrobe forever. For happy moments, for dreamy moments moments and memorable moments.” 

Resplendent runway show

Pieces primed for collector status include a ballet tulle dress in blush worn and a red asymmetrical mullet dress, both worn by Kendall Jenner, bookending last week’s resplendent runway show in Rome. 

Staged in the Palazzo Doria Pamphij, a private residence that dates back to 1505, and houses priceless masterpieces by Caravaggio and Titan, a heady mix of frothy confections accessorised with fascinators and Caravaggio-esque pearl motifs via encrusted tights, pearl chokers and adorned shoes weaved their way through gilded salons. 

If you’re not in the market for a red-carpet-worthy gown, the collection also features athleiure elements including diamante embellished hoodies and logo-heavy T-shirts. Faux-fur leopard coats, ruffled blouses, cocktail and midi dresses embroidered with blooms also inform the 60-piece strong womenswear edit. 

“It’s an ABC of my work but then there are pieces that came out of conversations with H&M,” Valli says. “We found a common language so some are unusual for Giambattista Valli, but they are Giambattista Valli.”

‘It’s very fluid’

A new direction for Valli was the addition of menswear to the H&M collection, a first foray for the Valli house. Not that Valli himself would call it menswear. “In the collection, there is no man, no women – it’s very fluid, anyone can wear it anyway they want to. It’s a state of mind, not physically who you are.’

This was reflected on the catwalk and in the campaign with unisex gender neutral styling with particular pieces including the double-breasted tiger-print jacket, white-washed tie-dye jeans and gilded lapel jackets on both male and female models.  

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