H&M Studio show at the Grand Palais in Paris, Getty Images.

H&M Studio show at the Grand Palais in Paris, Getty Images.

Ready for landing: H&M STUDIO

This season’s H&M Studio show was a mix of celestial yearnings and earthbound functionality that saw models, actresses and the fashion press partying the night away in Paris. We have lift-off!

As night fell upon Paris on day two of fashion week, a mysterious blue light could be seen emanating from an upper floor of the mighty Grand Palais. Guests climbed the grand staircase after a short stroll through the manicured garden. A faint hum of noise could be heard. In the cavernous Salon d’Honneur, sudden audible gasps were heard from the 600-strong crowd, made up of fashion editors, journalists and stylists, pop stars and actresses. They had all just been rocketed to the moon for the A/W 2015 H&M Studio collection, the third catwalk outing for the in-house design team.

Huge space modules were stationed throughout the vast room, the walls and floor emblazoned with a moon surface print. Dry ice and the blips of a computer floated through the air. Scenes from the proceedings were being beamed to thousands around the world via live streaming. As everyone settled into their seats (with space crater-printed cushions scattered liberally), anticipation was running high. The blips of the computer became louder and more frenetic. And then, hushed silence.

Caroline de Maigret, music producer and street style star, “touched down” to become the first woman to walk on the moon. Clad in a silver jumpsuit and clutching a matching helmet, she pointed a radio device at every section of the crowd before entering one of the space modules to take control of music for the fashion show and DJ live. 

Josephine De La Baume, Mark Ronson and Solange Knowles front row.

With Lovesick by Lindstrom and Christabelle blasting from the speakers, the models made their way around the space modules. Sporty yet futuristic pieces in earthy tones were the main focus of the limited edition collection – quilted padded jackets, hooded anoraks, utilitarian gilets and zip-front jumpsuits mingled easily with lurex knits, suiting and galactic chevron prints.

“It’s the planet of fashion,” said Ann-Sofie Johansson, creative adviser at H&M. “We took inspiration from spaceships and bold sports cars, with their hard metallic surfaces, and added silks and lurex for femininity.” Cue lacquered gilet layered over soft, padded armless coat cinched at the waist. Or structured bronze patch-front jacket paired with fuzzy long cardigan and lurex leggings. Zip-up tops featured under slip dresses.

There was also a 1970s vibe, with flared trousers, slinky tunics or dresses over trousers and leather salopettes paired with knit jumpers. “The collection was both functional and beautiful, as a layered look with rich fabrics and a warm colour scale,” said Johansson. Brick red and orange were the mainstays, of which stylist Robert Rydberg said: “We focused on having a tonal look with utility attributes, mixing that with a little glamour.” There were also a few fabulous styling tricks up Rydberg’s sleeve, sure to inspire legions, such as using a weekend carry-all as an everyday bag: “I love the silhouette it creates,” he said. Meanwhile, the bejewelled tops and knee-high heeled moon boots caught everyone’s attention.

Not to mention the models positively working the room, making eye contact with all those in attendance, and smiling radiantly as they sashayed through space. Edie Campbell opened the show, and what followed was a Who’s Who of the modelling world. Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid, Joan Smalls, Liu Wen, Amanda Murphy and Karmen Pedaru were just a few of the beauties who captivated the audience.

Gigi Hadid backstage.

When asked about the choice of models, casting director John Pfeiffer (who has worked with Michael Kors, Bottega Veneta and Christian Dior) said, “We always go for a strong, healthy and diverse group of women. This season there was also some specific direction that the models should be charming and elegant but, at the same time, effortlessly cool. I think Edie Campbell and Kendall Jenner are good examples of this.”

The H&M Studio Collection shows have become known for their great mix of top models and new faces, and they follow in the footsteps of the global campaigns with ethnic diversity. “Saskia de Brauw, Vanessa Axente, Liu Wen, Joan Smalls and Kati Nescher are really terrific examples of H&M women,” said Pfieffer. “They were all at the top of the list for the show.” As for ones to watch, the casting director cites Gigi Hadid, Amilna Estevão, Aamito Lagum and Julia van Os as the stand-outs. “They bring with them exactly the qualities we look for: modernity, strength, elegance and a cool factor. I think we will be seeing a lot more of these new faces in the future,” he said.  

As for how those gorgeous faces would be primped and preened for the show, H&M turned to the legendary Orlando Pita for hair and Lisa Butler for makeup. “The collection for the show was heavily accessorised with hats framing the face, so we gave strength to the models’ natural features, concentrating on strong eyebrows and glowing, healthy skin,” said Butler.

They bring with them exactly the qualities we look for: modernity, strength, elegance and a cool factor.

Casting director John Pfeiffer.

To get the look, each model was given a full facial massage using cleansing oil, which left the skin healthy, hydrated and invigorated. Then minimal concealer was applied. Brows were filled in where needed using powder, while the lips were subtly lined with a neutral colour and finished with lip balm. A powder blush was applied high on the cheeks to give a rosy outdoor glow. The result? “Radiant, healthy, outdoorsy women,” said Butler.

As the final looks orbited around space, the audience erupted into enthusiastic applause. “That was my favourite H&M Studio collection so far,” said pop star Solange Knowles immediately afterwards, clad in a stunning all-white H&M Conscious Collection outfit of matching long coat, trousers and top, accessorised with a shock of pink lips. “I loved everything about the H&M Studio show. There’s a green poloneck and trousers I want to get my hands on right now,” she added.

Other notables in attendance were French actress and gamine icon Audrey Tautou (in a very cute elongated cricket jumper), Girl with a Dragon Tattoo actress Noomi Rapace (in a sumptuous black belted robe over a sheer lace top), and music producer Mark Ronson and his wife, model Joséphine de la Baume. Supermodels Karolina Kurkova and Erin O’Connor also graced the FROW, the former in a sleeveless black satin number, the latter in a black leather skirt and au courant silk bomber jacket. On why she came out to support H&M that night, Kurkova smiled. “Every cool girl, every model, everybody wears H&M.”

But the night wasn’t over just because the models had strutted out for the finale. As soon as they disappeared backstage, the space modules opened up to reveal two different cocktail bars and an hors d’oeuvres “station”, all space-themed, of course. The showgoers rushed towards the food and drink, Instagram images fired off, and squeals of delight were heard as puff pastry desserts were consumed.

The invite had promised a cocktail party after the show and, while it was a very chic affair, with tunes such as Deee-Lite’s Groove Is In The Heart coming from the DJ booth, spontaneous dancing inevitably occurred. Nobody was in the mood for leaving. The show, the party, the clothes – it was all most definitely out of this world.

The H&M Studio Collection will be available in 200 stores worldwide and online from 10 September.

See the futuristic Paris show here.

Joan Smalls, Caroline de Maigret and Kendall Jenner, Getty Images.
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