Altogether, Rykiel and H&M rained 2,000 black velvet cushions and striped women’s underpants on guests attending one of the biggest and most extravagant parties held on the Paris circuit in recent years.
A giant if smaller than real-size Eiffel Tower, a ferris wheel, a merry-go-round, buckets of champagne and a host of mouth-watering gourmet delights were laid on inside a Paris exhibition hall for the launch of a collection from the iconic Parisian designer for the Swedish low-budget fashion group.
The lingerie is being launched on December 5 in 1,500 H&M stores, the vast majority of its shops worldwide, and is also to be sold in stores owned by the red-haired 79-year-old French designer, who last year marked her 40 years in fashion.
An Alice-in-Wonderland scene of giant cardboard trees festooned with huge multi-coloured balloons, big rubbery inflated dogs and fake clouds of fog greeted the more than 2,000 guests attending the event in the giant Grand Palais exhibition hall off the Champs Elysees.
As droves of waiters and chefs poured drinks and dished up goodies from smoked salmon to fairy floss and toffee apples to the rhythm of rock, a gaggle of geese and a band of marching girls paved the way for a parade of Rykiel’s 67-item collection of sexy underwear for H&M.
“Sonia Rykiel is a true fashion icon who invented a signature style combining femininity, Parisian chic and modernity, as well as clothing that is practical, comfortable and wearable,” said Margareta van den Bosch, responsible for design at H&M.
Among celebrities at the bash were French fashion supremo Jean-Paul Gaultier, designer Philippe Starck and model Eva Herzigova. More than 300 technicians and waiters were on hand for the Paris-inspired evening estimated to have cost more than €2 million ($3 million).
The Swedish inexpensive clothing chain has for several years teamed up with renowned fashion designers such as Karl Lagerfeld and Stella McCartney or popular artists like Madonna and Kylie Minogue who design or give their names to collections.
Founded in 1947 in Sweden, H&M ranks third in the world in clothing store sales behind America’s Gap and Spain’s Inditex group which owns Zara.
Rykiel, who opened her first store in 1968 in Paris, became known especially for her line of tight-fitting knitwear.
Her line for H&M starts at €9.95 for a pair of undies to a silk kimono for €59.95.
“I love the notion of making my fashion accessible to as many people as possible,” she told AFP.