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Was 2011 The Year of the Collab, Or What?

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

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Could it be that 2011 was, if nothing else, really and truly the Year of the Collab? Sure, other crazy things happened this year: John Galliano got canned, Kanye West designed a shitshow of a collection, there was a Fashion Week scheduling smackdown—but hell, there were a million designer collaborations. And a few of them ignited editor frenzies, caused websites to crash, and were promoted by the likes of Prince. We thought long and hard about it, and put together 10 collaborations that we think mattered this year—for one reason or another.

Missoni for Target
Well, Missoni for Target was certainly something. If you want to know what happens when a bunch of fashion-hungry editors duke it out for zig-zag everything, refresh yourself with our report of the invite-only launch here. When the collection debuted to the public, the website notoriously crashed, orders were canceled, stores were pillaged, and well, then it was over. Just as fast as it came.

Amy Winehouse's posthumous collections for Fred Perry
Despite the fact that WWD sniped at Amy Winehouse by saying she was "never going to be an enduring inspiration in the world of fashion," two of her collaborations with Fred Perry were released posthumously. The fall collection was released that very month of her passing, with all royalties and fees donated to the Amy Winehouse Foundation. In December, items from the spring collection were made available on the Fred Perry site, again with profits donated to the foundation. That collection also coincided with the release of another bit of Amy Winehouse memorabilia: Her last album, Hidden Treasures.

The final +J collection at Uniqlo
There were no doubt a lot of saddened Jil Sander fans when news hit that the fall 2011 +J collection would be Uniqlo's last. Via a statement from Uniqlo, the company said "...Ms. Sander and [Uniqlo] agreed that they had fully explored the possibilities of their creative collaboration and accomplished what they had set out to do." Hearts were broken, coats were bought, and then Uniqlo built a massive Fifth Avenue global flagship to ease the pain.

Photo credit: Ana Kinsella

Versace for H&M
The Versace for H&M collection had big shoes to fill, as Missoni for Target was still pretty fresh in everyone's mind. And since it's Versace, there was a shit-ton of hype. Images began to leak in places like Vogue Russia, then ads trickled in, then the lookbook, and then, naturally, a launch party that included Prince and Nicki Minaj. Similar to Missoni, the invite-only store at the event was terrifying—pushing, shoving, name calling, and all for items that would later appear (probably by many of those people at the party) jacked up on eBay. The clothes, pretty much, were guilty pleasures (and we were guilty, too). But after a week or so, no one was really wearing them besides Bryanboy. There were also a lot of in-store returns.

Alexander Wang for Dockers
This year, Alexander Wang took home the award for GQ's Best New Menswear Designer in America, and he, along with all of the other nominees—Patrik Ervell, Miller's Oath, Michael Bastian, Riviera Club, and Warriors of Radness—made some Dockers. The collection was very Wang (gray pants) but also very Dockers (khaki shirts), and there was even some pink thrown in there for good measure. A few months later, Dockers asked a bunch of personal style bloggers to put together their own looks from items in the collection, to test it out.

Karl Lagerfeld for Macy's:
If 2011 was the year of the collab, then it was also the year of complete Karl Lagerfeld domination. He was everywhere—in your Macy's, in your snowglobes, in yourperfumes, you name it. Of course, the launch party for the collection in New York was full of Karl self portraits. Since he wasn't about to stop there, Karl soon thereafter announced that, his new line, aptly titled Karl, will debut exclusively on Net-a-Porter this January. And he's been promoting it ever since.

Kardashian Kollection for Sears
You couldn't turn on the TV, read a magazine, walk down the street, or breath without hearing the word 'Kardashian' this year—whether it be in reference to Kim's divorce, Kim's divorce, or Kim's divorce. Similarly, their collection for Sears also created a ton of hoopla. Mostly, because they knocked off a bunch of designer handbags for it, sold underwear for $17, and had Annie Lebovitz shoot their campaign photos. Oh, and then it was available for pre-order on the Sears website already marked down. They still pimped the hell out of it, though, all the way to the bank.

Prabal Gurung for J.Crew
Plain and simple, the Prabal Gurung for J.Crew collection was really pretty. And it was also really limited—there were only 50 pieces made for some items, an interesting twist on a high-low collab. Instead of making really easy fashion (like J.Crew is wont to do), pieces from the collection were still very much high fashion. Sure, everyone can pull off a cardigan or a crew neck sweater, but how well can the majority of people wear a torso-sized bow?

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Collection for H&M
The Trish Summerville–designed Girl With the Dragon Tattoo collection for H&M was met with mixed feelings. Some thought the leather jackets and pants were awesome, and others thought it trivialized rape. One things for sure—it was a collection that blended two things that don't normally go together: a violent crime novel and fast fashion. And then, the pop-up included a woman in chains and faux computer hacking.

The Row for TOMS
There is almost nothing that's more impractical than a pair of cashmere shoes. 2011 seemed to be the year where the Olsen twins just went "screw it—let's just see how far we can take this." So, they made cashmere shoes for TOMS and then also a $39,000 backpack for The Row. All in all, a good year for the twins.

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