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Some Frank Reflections on the Margiela Collaboration

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You know Frank—he's been writing about menswear, sales, television, new shops, the recession, Lisa Loeb, the Golden Girls and getting blasted for Racked for over two years. Well, we think it's time you got to know him and his quirky-irreverent views on life and fashion even better with his column: Love, Frank. Taking the form of an open letter and always signed with love, Frank will rant about whatever style-related conundrum he encounters in a given week. So buckle your two-toned leather Moschino belts, folks, it's going to be ? Something.

Dear H&M,

So, we've been through this before—I don't wanna bore you. Collaborations aren't my thing; rather it be real; buy it on sale; better stuff lasts longer—you buy less of it ? Yadda, yadda, yadda.

I made an exception earlier this year with Marni. I love Marni. And—like a Versace (trashy!) or a Rodarte (dark!)—Marni has a very distinctive design DNA that can transcend price point. It's all the unusual, over-sized prints; the rich color; the cropped, boxy proportions; and that charming, quirky, eccentric point of view.

I love Margiela, too. But I feel as though the Maison Martin Margiela aesthetic is a little tough to convey at a fast fashion level. Margiela's more classic items—the suiting and outerwear, for instance—are notable for their ultra-luxe fabrications, their exquisite tailoring, and their technologically advanced and/or experimental construction (say, a fused-on sleeve rather than a sewn-on sleeve). None of the above is H&M attainable. It would be like bringing Tom Ford to Target.

The other side of Margiela is the brand's twisted, found-object-meets-trompe l'oeil playfulness. That parachute pack that's merely a vest. The layered lapels. The knit-in lain brick motif. The prints that appear to be exotic skins or barbed wire. The shoes that don't quite match. Would the house be willing or able to create new iconic pieces in this vein, for a retailer such as H&M?

Further—those pieces are often the most expensive in a given collection. They are far from cheap to produce and come in very limited quantities. a model that, by definition, is the polar opposite of H&M's.

Apparently, sense be damned, Margiela is simply taking those two touchstones to the masses next month. The collection consists of tailored basics (that look rather lovely in H&M-provided still shots, at least) and already-iconic Margiela oddities.

The basic stuff looks pretty nice—and there are some Margiela-esque touches: Blown-out proportions, asymmetry, and lapel-play. Meanwhile, the oddities look, well, they look just like the stuff those of us who actually occasionally buy Margiela already have. They straight up remade those iconic little candy bar wrapper wallets and clutches. They cost $59.95 instead of $200-and-whatever. I might as well throw mine away. Likewise the watchless watchbands and the faceless watches; the trompe l'oeil ties and sewn-in scarves; the gloves used on things that aren't gloves; the here-is-something-just-made-from-belts vest.

Way to really aggravate your existing customer, Margiela! Way to render the real stuff worthless!

I'll get over it, though—and probably buy the Fusion of Several Coats coat and Fusion of Two Trousers trousers, assuming they let me into another pre-sale.

(Pretty please, H&M?)

That said, I'd better not see any of that anti-branding white stitch branding on the cheap shit. That's going too far.

· View the Whole Margiela X H&M Collection, Plus Hear Sarah Jessica Parker, Selma Blair, and More Weigh In [Racked]
· Love, Frank [Racked]