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The Material Girl Dresses the Masses

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I remember watching Madonna in the 1985 flick Desperately Seeking Susan and knowing I had just found my new look. I was all of ten years of age, but determined to start wearing fishnets, heavy eyeliner, and big, black bows in my hair. I wanted to be like the Material Girl and get in the groove. Who didn’t? She was perennially cool—riding fashion’s cutting edge and setting the stage for millions of young retail lives. So, when H&M, the discount retail chain, announced their collaboration with Madonna, it wasn’t very shocking. She set our fashion palette twenty years ago and chances are she could still do so today.

The new “M by Madonna” launches on March 22nd and will be sold in H&M stores in twenty-eight countries. Madonna was integral in creating the line and the clothes are a reflection of her own fashion tastes.

“I wanted something casual but naughty, sensible but sexy. That’s me. That’s how I am. This is a combination of outfits I would love to wear. Bits and pieces have been inspired by the outfits in my own wardrobe, and also by what I love, like kimonos or my favorite Seventies vintage dress with the butterfly sleeves,” Madonna states on her website.

The line has tailored blazers, shirt dresses, pencil skirts, and Madonna’s favorite—a trench-coat in cotton poplin or leather. “M by Madonna” features mainly neutral tones like white, beige, black, and gray. The new line also offers accessories, including lace-up boots, skinny belts, purses, and sunglasses.

H&M is known among the twenty-something crowd for discount-priced daywear, party clothes, fun accessories, and techno blaring stores. But they also try to attract high-end consumers through fashion ad placement and runway knock-offs. To this end, Madonna’s line includes both bargain items, like the $20 body suit, and more expansive choices, like a $330 dollar leather jacket.

Madonna is not the first star to collaborate with H&M—Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney, and avant-gard Dutch designers Viktor and Rolf have as well—but she is certainly the most famous. Most of Lagerfeld’s collection was rumored to have sold out in the first two days, so it is anyone’s guess where Madonna’s fame will take the retailer.

H&M’s Madonna ads are already here in San Francisco stores, and I watched her new commercial online. In it, she portrays a fashion-crazed slave driver, with a male employee throwing himself at her feet as she approves his makeover of a tired looking schoolgirl. Though it is hard to imagine—with her chiseled biceps and flawless skin—that she is in her late forties, it is not hard to see why “M for Madonna” is destined to be a big hit. The Material Girl is behind it, and her touch is as good as gold.


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