Katie Devlin evaluates the Balmain and H&M craze and wonders is it too haute or just hot enough?

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Olivier Rousteing’s #Balmaination is officially taking over. High street favourite H&M’s highly anticipated collaboration with Paris fas3hion house Balmain won’t be released until November 5th, but a recent online leak caused the premature unveiling of the collection. The leak made one thing perfectly clear – it’s definitely Balmain.

From the signature structured tailoring, to the rope design embellishments to the lavish sparkle, it’s undeniably a collection of claim-to-Balmain. In fact, it’s so ‘Balmain’ that numerous pieces are almost identical to looks taken straight from the runway. Herein lies the problem with the collection: it’s too high fashion for it to be wearable. In comparison to previous H&M collaborators such as Alexander Wang and Isabel Marant, whose pieces were toned down reflections of their runway counterparts, the Balmain collection feels almost out of place on the high street. The dresses are some of the most realistically wearable pieces in the collection, and are perfect for the forthcoming Christmas party season. However pieces such as the pictured black, white and gold metallic mini, which was tested on the red carpet 4by Gigi Hadid, will put you €500 out of pocket and, some would say, out of place.

As a standalone, the collection is decadent, indulgent and just downright stunning. Yes, it’s very 80s and ever so slightly gaudy, but it’s just the right amount of flashy for it to be fun and fashionable. The embellished blazers with dramatic, exaggerated shoulders, such as the black and white beaded piece debuted by Kendall Jenner, could be easily incorporated into an everyday wardrobe if paired with jeans or a simple dress as modelled in the campaign shots. The leather jackets are also versatile investment pieces that will stand the test of time. However certain items, like the satin harem pants may be significantly less wearable, especially when teamed with other pieces from the striking collection.

Overall, the collection is hit-and-miss. It is beautifully and unmistakeably Balmain, and those who are fashion forward and were eagerly awaiting the arrival of the collaboration will no doubt be wearing pieces throughout the season. However, the casual high street shopper might be intimidated by the sheer drama of the collection and unsure of how to wear the pieces. All in all, an exciting collection for those brave enough to buy it.