Eddy Anemian Wins H&M’s Global Design Award Prize

Roll up, the results are in! And the winner of H&M’s global Design Award prize is… Eddy Anemian.

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The fashion student at the prestigious La Cambre in Brussels has bagged himself €50,000 and, most importantly, the opportunity of having H&M developing pieces from his collection to be sold in at least 12 countries under the mentorship of Ann-Sofie Johansson, the brand’s creative head of design.

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Competition was tough and the jury included London Fashion Week designer Erdem and Vogue’s Serena Hood, but Anemian’s talent saw him succeed over eight other semi-finalists from top-tier fashion schools.

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The 18-piece collection was unveiled to international press and buyers at the Mercedes Benz Stockholm Fashion Week. Titled They Can Cut All Flowers, They Cannot Keep Spring From Coming, the collection had a strong Haute Couture influence and consisted of 3D shapes covering the body almost completely and ranging from sea blue to forest green hues, with subtle floral patterns. The quality craftsmanship and elegance of colour juxtaposition were the stars of the collection. The floral range is inspired by the French painter Ingres and Tilda Swinton’s character in the film I Am Love.

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Anemian told WWD: “I like the idea of sensuality, and perhaps even glamour. I wouldn’t object to that description. But I don’t want any nudity. Rather, I tend to cover the body, and I just wanted to play with proportions – the idea of lots of patterns, or cutting jackets with really high collars that make you carry your head in an aristocratic way”.

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Ann-Sofie Johansson said: “All of the judges fell in love with Eddy’s collection, both the romance of how it looks when it is worn and the extraordinary skill of his work seen up close. He is a worthy winner, and a bright new star for fashion’s future”.

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Marni at H&M Sale – Sometimes They Come Back

Firstly, I would like to apologise and say that I know I’ve been terrible for not writing in an age, but I do have a couple of good excuses. Some of my absence can be put down to me being a little poorly. Nothing serious, not kicking the bucket just yet, only nagging little pains that stole all my time as I took partial residency in my doctor’s waiting room. The rest of my time has been absorbed by the editorial internship I’ve been doing at the great Kings Chelsea Magazine, which is launching in June. Yay!

Admittedly, I discovered that adjusting to a full-time shift job and a part-time internship is harder than anticipated, particularly when those two workplaces and my house are based respectively in the south, west and east of London, but it’s definitely worth it. This internship will go on until mid-August, so I am afraid that until then I’ll probably be a little out of sight. But bear with me and after that I shall be even better (or I’ll try, at least). I wish I were doing something a little more senior with my few years of experience as an editor, but sadly, fashion publishing regards itself as a different kettle of fish, and unless you have relevant fashion experience you need to start from the bottom again. So, full to my eyes with humble pie, I ping-pong across London for the best part of my days.

With that out of the way, in the UK, H&M have collected all the neglected leftover Marni stock from the back of their warehouses and placed it on sale. This reminded me how I actually did go on a mission on the line’s launch day and took pictures to write about the collection, but ended up doing nothing with them.

I remember getting to the flagship store on Regent Street at 9 am on the dot, its opening time, and asking what the queuing system was. It soon transpired that I was way too late for their manically organised schedule, and that all the wristbands (colour-coded depending on the time you were supposed to get in) had all already been given to people queuing outside since 7 am.

Anyone with an entry bracelet was placed in a group of a dozen people and had 15 minutes to enter, explore and ransack the designated Marni area, which was a cluttered, crowded, poky little affair of about 2 m2 with naturally very little room to roam around. A man with a headset microphone would aggressively shout “Ten minutes left!” “Five minutes left!” (why the shouting, crazyman Michael? You’re wearing a microphone). Two bouncers were at the edges of the cordoned-off area trying to keep us as far away as possible. Despite sounding like the opposite of offering customers what they want, this schizo approach seemed to work, and by 9:32 another batch of collars was called up as the previous bunch had sold out. For us, bracelet-less civilians, there was little to do but wait until 2 pm, when all the chosen ones had already munched their way through the collection like mice through Edam and we were left with the red wax.

As you can see from the picture, at 2:30 pm the queue outside the Oxford Street shop was still remarkable, despite the poor selection left by hurricane People. I managed to take a few pictures of the whole process but can tell you this is probably the last H&M designer collaboration I am planning to attend.

Sadly, the quality of the pictures is not up to scratch as I also forgot that picnik.com was going to be shut in April. Has anyone got another similar, free website to suggest, please?

Marni for H&M 2012 – Something to be Looking Forward to

Another fashion post and yet another collaboration. On 8 March 2012 H&M will present its new collection jointly with Italian-Swiss high-end designer Marni. This exciting range will include all the staple styles and elements of this truly eclectic designer house. With strong utilitarian shapes, the new men’s and women’s collection will include on-trend block heels and wedges, precious-looking ethnic accessories next to plastic ones, colour blocking as long as big, playful, clashing prints juxtaposition and bold African-inspired prints.

The Marni brand was launched in 1994 by Lugano-based couple Consuelo and Gianni Castiglioni as a side business from Gianni’s fur company. Since then they have created a modern yet classic look that is constantly chic and at the same time cool and have had their collections photographed by many big names, among which Mario Testino.

H&M has previously collaborated with Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney, Comme des Garçons, Jimmy Choo and Lanvin. Their current collaboration with Versace is in shops now and the Marni collection will be sold in 260 stores worldwide and online.

Despite generally feeling wary about H&M designer collaborations, which I often find overpriced and of poor quality if a little overrated, I am sure this new collection is a breath of fresh air and definitely something to be looking forward to.

Glossing Over Retail

Fashion magazines in the US have started selling the clothes they review. At the same time, just as you are now able to purchase the latest Derek Lam and Marc Jacobs pieces from the website of Vogue magazine, the opposite is also happening. Nowadays, every respectable online and brick-and-mortar fashion retailer worth a fashionista’s glance, has a magazine. From high-street to high-end fashion, ASOS, my-wardrobe.com, H&M, all have an online or printed magazine.

ASOS Magazine

As the US Vogue site mentions, “Vogue may receive a commission on some sales made through this service”, which clearly shows that magazines are getting into retail, and they mean business. Meanwhile, ASOS magazine showcases articles about the latest cool personalities and musicians while cleverly squeezing among those pages several features tailored on the season or current trends, listing their own products. This is the latest trend for catalogues that seem less invasive or pushy and, in turn, are more effective in selling the stock. If before you needed to walk into the shop to be sold a skirt that could be paired with the sales assistant’s suggestion of a certain top and shoes at, for example, your next Christmas party, now you need only to flick through the pages of ASOS’s glossy to see features about what to wear for such an occasion from head to toe, nails included.

Moda Operandi website, with links to trunk shows.

Magazines used to help designers sell, at times even guaranteeing coverage to those who buy advertising spaces in their pages, but now they are starting to represent competition to traditional retailers and high-end department stores such as Selfridges and Harvey Nichols. There are no more boundaries between these two industries. Vogue recently teamed up with the new online luxury catwalk looks retailer Moda Operandi to get closer to the consumers and Style.com has also started selling clothes.

Style.com website with a link on the top right to purchase a Rebecca Taylor top.

A technique widely used by both gloss magazines and online retailers is the Editor’s recommendation. Websites such as my-wardrobe.com and Net-a-Porter.com often feature Editor’s Pick pages, which lure the consumers into feeling “if a fashion Editor has picked this product, it must be good”.

Designers' picks and links to their collections on Net-a-porter.com.

Indeed, these two business trend changes are related by the fact that retailers started producing catalogues that look more like glossies than mere marketing products paired with the fact that magazines have been experiencing advertising losses for years now, due to the threat constituted by online competition and recession. The readers and consumers have changed their expectations too, in the last few years. It is so common these days to have links through to whatever object we covet and wish to purchase, that if a magazine or website shows us a great frock, and then does not let us buy it, we get frustrated and are, in turn, unhappy readers/customers.

However, Lauren Santo Domingo, a contributing editor at Vogue and Moda Operandi co-starter believes that her site, which provides an online version of a shop’s trunk show, has in fact a positive impact on designers’ sales figures, offering a real service by enabling them to understand, before the clothes are produced, which styles customers are interested in buying. Through the website, designers are also able to sell high-fashion, super-expensive and eccentric pieces which traditional stores would normally steer well away from. Although the site was only created about a year ago, Aslaug Magnusdottir, the other half of Moda Operandi, expected to gain 120,000 subscribers in the last quarter of 2011. More than 40% of their customers went back to the website to purchase more items after their first buy and the average transaction is about US$1,500 (ca. £950).

Aslaug Magnusdottir, left, and Lauren Santo Domingo at their The Madison Avenue office of Moda Operandi. Source: http://www.nytimes.com.

Ms Magnusdottir said that “the consumer becomes the buyer”. That sounds like a good way of putting it, however they are a buyer who is still heavily biased by trends dictated by glossies, be it a catalogue magazine or a traditional publishing one.