You would think the current incarnation of Madonna (clad in shiny purple lycra and dancing to throbbing pop-techno) and the eternal H&M (big, shiny Swedish super-retailer) would get along just swimmingly (“Put on ‘Dancing Queen’ again!”). Alas, for most devoted fans of the ageless diva, her second attempt with the super-retailer — after a tracksuit-filled initial bust last year — has been greeted with mixed reviews, at best.
Giant billboards of Madonna in her new looks have materialized all over the city; clever commercials depicting Madonna as some Devil Wears Prada fashion sadist have circled TV and the web. But for all the hype, shoppers weren’t exactly mobbing the store to get their hands on the new line, which consisted mostly of blah pieces like a black jersey dress ($35) and a black and white silk v-neck dress ($70), along with some straight-up “ew” items like a zip-up cropped cat suit ($40). A few things sold out early, like the white belted trench ($100), corset belt ($35), and a cream-colored sequined mini-dress ($198), which was definitely my favorite piece in the collection. That said, I also loved the sequined mini-dress I saw at French Connection last season. And the blue one at Alice + Olivia.
According to the H&M press release, “The ‘M by Madonna’ fashion line will reflect Madonna’s timeless, unique and always glamorous style.” Wait, “timeless” style? Really? If anything, what’s made Madonna an icon is her ability to to be timely, or at least innovative. Giorgio Armani and Oscar de la Renta are timeless. Madonna’s a cult classic, constantly shedding her skin and changing her spots. Honestly, was I the only one secretly hoping I’d walk in and find an entirely 80s collection? I’d buy a pair of lace gloves, a massive headband, bangles… pretty much the whole ensemble from ‘Lucky Star’. Oooh! The sweetheart corset and leggings from ‘Papa Don’t Preach’! Hell, I’d take a knock-off conical bra from her Gaultier-designed Blonde Ambition Tour. Could it be that Madonna doesn’t realize she’s camp? Utterly fabulous, but camp, right?
Granted, Madonna is not a fashion designer. She is a celebrity. A celebrity who, at one point, had a fantastic eye for style but of late — and maybe this is sacrilege — has not exactly been setting fashion trends. Did I buy her Confessions album? Damn straight. Did I go out and buy a shiny unitard and flip my hair? Umm… even Madge ain’t wearing that stuff around in real life. We’ll see how often we catch her in her H&M creations.