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Marni For H&M Collection — Will It Be Worth The Long Lines?

On the heels of the Lanvin and Versace collections, the Marni for H&M collection is poised to hit stores on March 8th — which means bargain hunters and fashion junkies alike are synchronizing their  Swatches (or their Jaeger LeCoultres). Anyone who has ventured to score a piece from one of H&M’s designer collections (whether the Karl Lagerfeld for H&M collection released in 2004, the collaborative effort with Stella McCartney unveiled in 2005,  the Viktor & Rolf for H&M collection rolled out in 2010, or any other joint venture) will volunteer a grizzly tale of war-like strife, with details about the hours (or days) spent camping out on a city sidewalk, the block-long lines outside store locations, and the sprinting, shoving, and pushing they suffered at the hands of nearly deranged shoppers once they’d ventured past the proverbial velvet rope. Sometimes, the survivors emerge feeling triumphant, relishing in the spoils of fashion war. Others, however, are left wondering if the ends justified the means, if all the hassle was truly worth it.

Usually, we’re skeptical about H&M’s designer collaborations. Sure, they may have vestiges of the defining aesthetic of the designer with whom the retail chain collaborated but even that can be compromised to make pieces more hanger-friendly. And, since H&M is the Ikea of the fashion world, the overall quality of its garments is hardly praiseworthy. Add to that the fact that these limited-edition garments are routinely overpriced and that their release provikes mass hysteria and you have all the makings of an “I’ll pass” situation.

So, it was with eyebrows raised in collective suspicion that we perused through the photos of the Marni for H&M collection. To our dismay, some of the pieces looked remarkably fun and lively. Sure, it’s hard to discern the quality of these garments from an assortment of touched-up photos or to judge how flattering they would be on a real woman (as opposed to on some rain thin model with a popsicle-like silhouette). But shelving those concerns for the time being, it’s worth noting that the designs themselves — from a purely visual stance — capture the elegant eccentricity, the irreverent whimsy and experimental pattern-mixing of the Italian brand.

With this collection, the fun lies in mixing and matching patterns,  pairing a sleeveless blouse with oversize polka dots ($69.95, shown after the jump) with a matching cardigan ($79.95, shown seventh from top) or choosing to accompany the top with floral print trousers featuring gold lamé threads and a brocade-like fabric texture ($79.95, pictured third from top). Even individual pieces convey a sense of duality, as with a short-sleeved top featuring a glistening camel-colored leather panel along the torso and soft woolly sleeves in a gray hue( $149, pictured  fourth from top) or a long-sleeved, peasant blouse ($79.95, shown above at top) with white circles juxtaposed atop a black-and-blue checkerboard pattern along its front surface and a more tribal-flavored pattern along the back consisting of rows of lines and polka dots against an ivory backdrop.

In terms of patterns and cohesive design elements, the collection relies largely on oversize polka dots, tropical floral prints, vintage-feeling geometric patterns, color blocked arrangements, simple stripes, and zig zag motifs. Silhouettes, meanwhile, are fairly streamlined and prim — boxy tops, pencil skirts, peasant blouses,V-neck cardigans and sweater vests, and single-breasted 3/4-sleeve coats among them.

Accessories are where the major quirk factor appears, with collar necklaces covered with paillettes, multi-strand wood necklaces in primary colors, color-blocked sandals with wooden platform heels, stretch bracelets made of geometric resin pieces, and large statement necklaces with leaf-shaped slithers of resin and zyl.

Take a look at some of the standout pieces from the Marni for H&M collection and decide whether you’ll be joining the masses standing in line. After all, some of the greatest things are worth waiting for, but it’s up to you to determine whether this collection belongs on that list.

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