“A (Design) Marriage Made in Heaven”

Ever since our favorite (not to mention most entertaining and exuberant) ‘bi-polar’ designer Isaac Mizrahi launched his ‘Hi/Low’ collection for Target, countless similarly inspired collaborations (marriages made in ‘design’ heaven so to speak) have followed. ‘Targeting’ their audience…Luella Bartley, Behnaz Sarafpour, and most recently Proenza Shouler have created capsule collections for the budget minded chain. And it’s not just Target that’s gotten into the act.

Norma Kamali, known for (among other things) her sweats in the 80’s, teamed up with Everlast to put her stamp on a contemporary sportswear line for the athletic wear giant; Vivienne Westwood, Thakoon Panichgul, and Sophia Kokosalaki produced three distinct limited edition capsule collections for the Nine West Footwear Corporation last year; Laura Poretsky for Abaete and Lela Rose have worked in collaboration with Payless Shoes; Nanette Lepore (known for her girlie eclectic collections) spiced up Keds’ traditional canvas slip ons by covering them with a leopard print; H&M brilliantly enlisted the likes of Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney, and Viktor & Rolf (Madonna doesn’t count since she is NOT a fashion designer but a self promoting entertainer without any particular designing skills) to create signature capsule collections selling at a fraction of the price of their ready-to-wear lines would sell for; and Roland Mouret teamed up with the Gap for a small dress collection about one year ago.

Speaking of the Gap, recent news that a youthful trio of undeniably talented and celebrated ‘newcomers’ (Doo.Ri Chung, Kate and Laura Mulleavy for Rodarte, Thakoon Panichgul) will put their unmistakable stamps on that iconic “I can’t live without” wardrobe staple, The Great White Shirt, is wonderful news. The limited edition collection that will debut on April 17th (with retail prices from $68 to $88) at 100 larger Gap stores, is dubbed Gap Design Editions. In addition to the white shirts, there promises to be a “Claire McCardell inspired shirtdress” courtesy Doo.Ri.

Forgetting tricks and trends, and those sparsely needed entrance making dresses or gowns, at the end of the day, what most women need, crave, and rely upon are timeless, forever wardrobe staples and basics that are not boring or dull. Making them not only affordable but enlisting highly influential world class design names (many with world wide brand recognition) to reinvent and reinterpret them so as to make them even more appealing, is where it’s at from my point of view.

By the way, speaking of wardrobe staples, the Gap, and Doo.Ri Chung, the celebrated and award winning designer is probably as well known for her beautiful trench coats (she does them each season) as she is for her draped jerseys. Since coats and trench coats are such a major category these days, how great it would be for her to design a small group of trench coats (featuring her signature trademark details) for the popular chain. Maybe three or four styles available in white, khaki, and black; all to retail under $130. (H&M was selling Viktor & Rolf’s fabulous trenchcoat for $129 after all!)

This has got me thinking (or dreaming) about other possibilities that could await us: ‘marriages’ of the most high- end with the most low- end (wouldn’t that be the most satisfying pairings of all?) Admittedly, some of these are more probable than others. Alright, so perhaps none are really probable, but forgive me if I indulge my fantasies a bit.

Hermes for L.L. Bean: a line of sturdy canvas bags constructed like the iconic Hermes Kelly or Birkin, at L.L.Bean’s boating tote prices.

Manolo Blahnik, Christian Louboutin, and Roger Vivier for Payless: (I don’t think there’s a shoe at Payless that costs more than about $35…need I say more?) Azzedine Alaia for Levi Strauss or the Gap:for Levi Strauss or the Gap: a line of incredibly constructed denim jackets, coats, dresses, skirts, and pants featuring AA’s signature curved seams and amazing construction but at popular prices.

Marc Jacobs for Old Navy: A collection of classic but saucy sportswear staples with the Marc Jacobs touch at Old Navy prices.

Ric Owens for Banana Republic: Nobody does shearling quite like Ric…but having Banana Republic (or Weatherproof for that matter) produce the dreamy deconstructed pieces would enable more of us to enjoy them.

Balenciaga for J.Crew: Looking back over Nicolas Guesquiere’s decidedly ‘preppy’ crested jackets, fitted striped shirts, and tan cotton chino low- waisted jodphurs for fall 2007, got me thinking… what better company to translate them for the masses than preppy collegiate J.Crew? Or Brooks Brothers for that matter. Of course, Guesquiere’s latest creations also recalled Ralph Lauren and looked like glamorized versions of what RL is currently selling in his Rugby shops…Perhaps Ralph could have Nicolas as a ‘guest designer’ for one season, and produce an affordable line of great jackets, shirts, and pants.

Chanel for Kmart: A limited edition of signature Chanel boucle and tweed jackets priced for the masses (what am I talking about? That’s already been done….and then some!)

-Marilyn Kirschner

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

1 Comment
  1. How great these co-operations may be…to me, nothing compares to the real thing..

    I would like to compliment you on your site, a great source for information!

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