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Versace, H&M And Scary D

Karen Regn considers the Versace and H&M collaboration and then thinks better of it

Written by . Published on December 1st 2011.

Versace, H&M And Scary D

‘BEAUTY is just skin deep, but ugly goes clean to the bone’ said the American poet and satirist Dorothy Parker.

She had a point.

Donatella Versace and her label, having launched a ‘bargain’ line in high-street shop H&M, are far from fawning over their new customers. Instead, every marketing maneuver is a stinging slap on the sycophantic face of customer appreciation – so why is everyone still smiling? 

“My house, my rules, my pleasure,” says Donatella, closing the video advert for her recent collection, The Very Best of Versace for H&M, with a wry smile and chilling eyes.

And yes, Donatella is having fun.

Donatella is a mad puppeteer, putting her vacant-eyed mice-models in hamster-wheels, mazes and cages, and literally stringing them up in closets.

On the day of Versace for H&M’s launch, customers were given ten minutes to make their selections from the 60 piece range before whistles shrieked and shop assistants turned wardens herded them to the tills.  How brusque, really, to treat customers, especially those who had spent a rough and probably sleepless night waiting outside the shop’s doors. 

The Very Best Of Versace for H&MThe Very Best Of Versace for H&M

But Donatella didn’t make this line for you or for me or even for her poor chattel, er… customers.  She cancelled a New York photo shoot in which ‘real women’ would model the line, insisting that with their less-than-emaciated forms (US sizes zero to six) they didn’t exemplify her brand. 

Apparently, she’s made her new line for robots – or so her disturbing advert for the line would have us think. 

In the video, Donatella is a mad puppeteer, putting her vacant-eyed mice-models in hamster-wheels, mazes and cages, and literally stringing them up in closets.  The girls wander through her manipulations, looking gorgeously stunned.  At the end, a single shot of the men’s line is thrown in – the boy-toy sentinel in zebra stripes guarding the door. Presumably, he’s keeping sanity out.

In my opinion, the video is proof that Scary D has gone OTT. 

I know what you’re going to say – ‘But it’s Versace, it’s supposed to be over the top, it’s fun.’

Marketing reminiscent of an abusive relationship sure is fun, and I seem to be in a miniscule minority who think otherwise. Just look at the photographs taken on launch day and published in the Daily Mail taken of customers with gigantic smiles, proudly clutching their zany H&M/Versace bags, their expressions looking exhausted but elated. 

Though the store has yet to release official figures, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear the words ‘record’ and ‘breaking’ at some point. The website crashed on launch day and everything I’ve clicked on since has been sold out. Meanwhile, eBay re-sales are driving the perceived worth of the brand sky-high. A pink silk dress with gold studs that had a retail price of £129.99 went for £239 on Saturday. While a black leather jacket (also with gold studs) was offered for an incredible $550 in the States. 

This pink dress was one of the only items I truly liked when I went into the store on launch day to have a look around. It only took me a few minutes to rule out most of what was left in the Manchester Market Street store sometime in the afternoon, after the frenzy had quieted.

This pink dress was one of the only items I truly likedThis pink dress was one of the only items I truly liked

Some of the items were good-looking, but felt like cheap fabric; like the Far-east-inspired asymmetrical turquoise dress, which felt scratchy. I think even Donatella would admit the quality is not anywhere near what Versace-label customers usually receive.

I didn’t give a second thought or glance toward most items of the H&M collection.  Except for the pink and yellow heart-print fringed monstrosity that I looked at twice – then shuddered.

I must have missed all the good stuff, because I needed much less than ten minutes and walked out with nothing.  

The ‘Cruise’ range, the next phase of the H&M Versace collaboration, will be out in January, but as I draw the line at standing in the cold having whistles blown at me, I probably won’t get anything from that either.

Of course, there’s always eBay, where that pink dress I liked is going for 60 times the price of the cheapest dress on the H&M website – which is just £3.99.

But I think I’ll stick to my house, my rules, my pleasure - where Donatella doesn't pull the strings.

Follow Karen on Twitter @KarenRegn

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