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H&M Balmain Collection Gallery
“Sorry Ma’am, it started at eight,” was the reply that greeted me as I walked through the H&M doors at Aleksanterinkatu 48 and commented to the staff on how the racks were already mostly empty at twenty minutes to nine.
The “it” that is being referred to is the Balmain Paris and H&M collaboration that every fashion darling has been waiting for months to have in their hot little hands. Online videos, press releases, giant billboards and much hyped lookbooks have teased fans of the usually unattainably expensive Balmain.
But no more. On the crisp Thursday morning, Christmas came early to the fashion set. The clothes looked to the past few collections of the fashion house, with intricately embroidered mini dresses, silken rope embellishments, 80’s inspired double breasted power blazers and no shortage of sequin bedazzled blouses.
Surprisingly the quality of the garments was reasonably high in that much of the clothes were made in Europe in lieu of the fast fashion manufacturing staples of China and Bangladesh. What made this collaboration extra special was that Balmain creative director Olivier Rousteing was lining up in the wee small hours for the Karl Lagerfeld and H&M collaboration just under a decade ago before rocketing to fashion fame and fortune.
TThe scene on Thursday morning was controlled chaos. People from as far as Russia made a special trip into Helsinki just for this event. There were hundreds of people in a small space, yet everyone respected each other’s personal space and the rules of basic shopping etiquette.
The racks were all but empty by 9 am with only the most expensive Men’s leather jackets still around alongside some rings. By the time I got home, most of the collection had been uploaded onto eBay by private sellers commanding double if not triple the retail prices.
However, the H&M and Balmain story is not over. In December the official fragrance of the collection will be released, giving the late comers something special to look forward to. If one can’t dress like the fashionistas, one can at least smell like them!