Donatella Versace may be making clothes for the masses, but she doesn’t want the masses modeling them.
After the Daily News arranged for real NYC women to be photographed wearing looks from the Italian designer’s Versace for H&M line, a rep for the Swedish clothing company canceled the shoot on Friday.
Apparently, “real” doesn’t work for the 56-year-old bottle-blond designer with the bee-stung lips.
The H&M publicist initially explained by email that the “Model New Yorkers” photo feature could probably not go forward because Versace had to approve “anyone who wears the collection for press” — and, she added, “Donatella will likely not approve shooting the collection on real women.”
She was right. When the Daily News writer organizing the shoot sent the publicist photos of two of the three women he wanted to use — all recent college graduates who work in the city — the answer came back that only one was acceptable.
When the News writer asked for an explanation, he was told the woman who was rejected “doesn’t fit [Versace’s] branding.”
That might make sense if the clothes involved were from Versace’s full-priced designer collections, where a metallic brushed-leather biker jacket goes for $5,825 and a wool crepe cut-out dress fetches $2,425.
But one reason designers work with H&M is to make their designs accessible — and affordable — to a less-exclusive crowd. Previous fashion designers who’ve worked with H&M in this way include Chanel’s Karl Lagerfeld and Stella McCartney.
“The H&M customer is anyone interested in fashion,” the company’s U.S. public relations manager, Jennifer Ward, told the retail-shopping website Westfield.com this fall. “There is something for every age and personality.”
Versace’s designs for H&M reflect this perspective. Although there are some pricier items — such as a $249 metallic party dress — the line includes a $29.99 pair of leggings that feature a jungle print similar to the famous plunging dress that Jennifer Lopez wore to the 2000 Grammys.
Versace previewed her limited-edition H&M line at a party and fashion show at Pier 57 on Nov. 8. Although she used the kind of stick-thin models who don’t resemble typical NYC consumers, the designer told CBSNews.com that she understood the H&M consumer.
“I know this customer,” she said. “I know what they want.”
Now if only she didn’t mind them actually wearing her clothing.