Posted by Bethan Holt, Junior Fashion Editor at Large

Isabel Marant in Paris at the launch of her H&M collection today
As fashion legend goes, Isabel Marant is one of the coolest designers around, totally au fait with having her photo taken without a scrap of make-up on, hair mussed into bun and wrapped in a big, old jumper you or I might reserve for Sunday afternoons. She is nonchalant where the rest of us might be control-freakish and overprepared. In fact, Isabel Marant is so cool that she has practically invented a whole new definition for the word. And so it comes of something of a surprise for her to admit that the reason she finally plumped to join H&M for their next designer collaboration is that slightly nerdish phenomenon, fanmail. "It made sense for me to do this collection for the people who love me; they send me letters telling me how much they love my clothes" explained Marant at the preview of her H&M collection which launches with a party in Paris tonight before going on sale on November 14th. So touched is Marant by the contents of her mail bag that she is compiling a book of "all the super-sweet letters I have received".

By the looks of the H&M collection, Marant is about to add to her fan base. Unlike many of the other designers who have worked with H&M (Donatella Versace and Karl Lagerfeld, for example), she is not a celebrity in her own right. Those beyond the fashion world might know Marant's name, but perhaps more as a by-word for the very particular way of dressing which her brand had engendered. H&M call it "boho elegance and rock'n'roll nonchalance" but you only have to look at Emmanuelle Alt, Gwyneth Paltrow or Kate Bosworth to see it in action. And beyond that, anyone who's considered a wedge trainer or ankle boot, a laced leather trouser or anything Navajo has come under the Marant influence, even if they don't know it. It's actually this group which she is keen to reach by designing for the high street- "It's a good way for me to remind everyone that it was me who made these things". It's crystal clear that Marant is a bit pissed off with seeing girls walking around in second (or even third/fourth) rate copies of the products which she calls her "kids".

Although there's not a wedge trainer in sight in the H&M collection, there is a brilliant selection of beautiful, instantly distinctive Isabel Marant greatest hits. Those fringed wedge boots have been reinterpreted in two-tone suede and leather. Then there's a huge selection of ikat printed skirts, loose slouchy trousers and tiered dresses. There are several versions of the super skinny, slightly cropped and zipped trousers which come coated (in red, white and black) rather than the original leather. Among the most fabulous components are sparkling going out clothes; sequinned leggings, a shrug-on silver jacquard bomber and several of those super-sexy teeny weeny mini dresses which appear in each and every Marant catwalk show.
Marant for kids

Isabel Marant jumper- supposedly for kids.

Isabel Marant kids denim jacket
She has also taken this chance to expand her horizons beyond womenswear into men's and kids'- please can somebody photograph a Marant clad family? As with everything Marant, her approach to this new venture came from her everyday experiences; "My husband (the accessories designer Jerome Dreyfuss) often takes my jeans and sweaters- our bodies are the same. Of course, I borrow his clothes too. I think it's very contemporary to share a closet'. The result is a menswear collection which doesn't look so very dissimilar to the womenswear, with plenty of chunky knits, embroidered jeans and slouchy boots making the cut. The savviest of shoppers will be buying bits from across the gender/ age categories. I'll be snapping up the tea dress from the women's collection along with one of the men's sweaters and perhaps even a shrunken little denim jacket or tie-dye skater shoes from the kids range (sizes go up to a generous age 14/ shoes size 39). Marant, meanwhile, might need to buy a bigger postbox.


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