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Some Marriages Work

Some don’t. The high-low designer-retailer partnership isn’t always fruitful.

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The coupling of a high-fashion style icon and a mass retail chain can be marvelously beneficial for both. It lets the former look democratic and increase the fan base, while the latter gets some good-taste cred. Of course, sometimes a project goes thud (Madonna’s line for H&M last year). Other times there’s an overpromise-underdeliver issue (Karl Lagerfeld’s H&M designs were based on his own less well-known line, not his Chanel work). Still, the best high-low fashion collaborations—like Proenza Schouler’s spring 2007 line for Target and Viktor & Rolf’s fall 2006 work for H&M—really do deliver a designer’s vision to a yearning, hungry audience. How does the current batch of big-box collaborations rate? Here, three of spring’s hottest hookups.

CFDA/VOGUE + GAP
Launched April 15

680 Fifth Ave., at 54th St.; 212-977-7023
Good: The crisp white shirts ($58 to $98) by 3.1 Phillip Lim, Band of Outsiders, Michael Bastian, and Threeasfour are practical, with interesting details like oversize bows, cowboy patches on the shoulders, and neckties.
Not So Much: Launching a project with so many names is confusing. The uniformly boxy cut makes the shirts feel less special.
Verdict: While it’s brilliant to revamp an article everyone needs, the flip side is that you can never buy one because they sell out so quickly.

ROGAN + TARGET
Launching May 18

139 Flatbush Ave., at Atlantic Ave., Ft. Greene; 718-290-1109
Good: Rogan stays true to the brand; they’re still for the hipster who isn’t trying to look like one. Linen striped vests ($27), plaid minidresses ($45), and wide-leg jeans ($40) could hang in Rogan’s Tribeca store.
Not So Much: The beachwear. Leopard- and zebra-print swimsuits ($30) and giraffe-print shift dresses ($40) are jarring.
Verdict: Thumbs up. Target again signals that it appreciates style by choosing a smart young name and letting it get creative.

ALEXANDER WANG + UNIQLO
Launching May 30

546 Broadway, nr. Spring St.; 917-237-8800
Good: The muted gray, black, and white collection of mainly dresses ($29 to $50) is simple and clean, and perfectly depicts Wang’s effortless style and Uniqlo’s minimalist vision.
Not So Much: If you’re looking for Wang’s downtown grunge look—ripped baggy shorts, an oversize blazer, and spectators—you’ll probably be disappointed.
Verdict: Commercial enough for the masses, but still a little bland. Creative styling can make them hip enough to wear below 14th Street.


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