Fantasy Fashion Takeovers


Written by Tshepo Mokoena
Photos and illustrations by David Sims, CĂ©line
15 Sunday 15th April 2012

Main image: a young Yves Saint Laurent at work.

L: Céline SS12 showing Primark (R) how some crisp tailoring is really done


Phoebe Philo for Primark

To kick things off, let's start with the store that potentially needs the most help. Primark, as most bargain hunters already know, is a stress assault on all the senses: usually rammed with a combination of excitable German tourists, aggressive shopping mothers and sticky-fingered children it is not the sort of place to pop into for a relaxing spot of retail therapy. With no shortage of sweatshop controversies (yes, those ridiculously cheap t-shirts have to be stitched by the underpaid hands of people somewhere), the brand encompasses a huge range of styles from weekend 'downtime' pieces to often drab and weirdly-cut officewear.

Céline's Phoebe Philo (pictured above) could be just what they need to bring their tailoring up to scratch, and produce pieces that are less trend-mongering and more forward-thinking. So far Phoebe's track record at the French design house has almost single-handedly brought minimalism back into ready-to-wear focus since she was named their creative director in 2008.

Roberto Cavalli for Zara

A dress from Cavalli's SS12 range

This may sound crazy initially, but hear me out. Cavalli is known for being all about extravagance, bold print and toeing that line between delightfully garish and worryingly trashy. Regardless, his work is almost always fun. That's a word that designers with Zara need to have blown up in big letters as their phone backgrounds for a while, because though the store does well with elegant and structured pieces, they haven't got the blend of sexy and vibrant down yet and rarely make clothes to fit a woman's body that isn't straight up and down.

Cavalli, with his love for tropical prints, metallic embellishments and sneaky peek-a-boo detailing, could expand their reach in the 'pretty partywear' department. He'd just have to be reminded to keep it classy every once in a while.

Christopher Kane for New Look

Christopher Kane's Resort 2011 collection, which spawned 100 high street imitations within months

The darling of most fashion critics, and with a Topshop collaboration already under his belt, I'd like to see Kane wave his magic ideas wand all over the New Look stock. He surprises with just about every collection, and somehow makes lines inspired by The Flinstones and Planet Of The Apes sell out in days.

New Look has the cheap and cheerful side of things nailed, but is often guilty of cramming a trend too many onto a single garment. Someone with Kane's wildly creative and unorthodox approach could neaten this up and give New Look that 'how do they come out with pieces I didn't even know I wanted to own yet?' appeal - Topshop and Urban Outfitters dominate that end of the spectrum by striving to keep things fresh (and optimistically expensive).


Tom Ford for H&M

Sandals with a slightly ill-fitting summer suit? H&M, let Ford's bold approach (R) guide you

Finally, the trusty Swedish powerhouse could do with a reel-in courtesy of ex-Gucci and YSL man Tom Ford. His impeccable attention to detail is just what the H&M brand needs: recent lines from the store have included baffling mixes of childlike prints with stricter forms and relentless colour-blocking.

For menswear in particular it would be a great opportunity for the store to experiment with proportion more, à la Ford, while holding onto the playfulness that they already stand for. Things would probably turn a little racier in terms of their campaigns, but surely after a shiny paisley print vomited all over their spring/summer line for ladies they can only get better?

Which switches would you make? Or do you think the high street has it locked down already? Sharing is caring.

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