H&M's Lemlem Collaboration Delivers a Supermodel Styling Trick Using Recycled Plastic
If you've ever tried to get a hold of one of H&M's designer collaborations, you know it requires meticulous preparation. The affordable collections often sell out in minutes - but the rewards are always worth it. The retailer's latest high-end partner is none other than Liya Kebede, the supermodel and philanthropist behind artisan-driven label Lemlem.
The Lemlem x H&M collection features dresses, swimsuits, matching sets, and jewelry that are consciously sourced from recycled polyester, repurposed plastic and zinc, and Tencel lyocell, a natural fiber known for its soft texture. "Given that we're so focused on textiles and the work of artisans, it was really important to me that we focus on sustainable materials," Kebede told InStyle over a video call. "H&M was also very focused on that, so that was a great combination." The entire collection is stunningly breezy, vibrant, and easy to wear. "That was the priority - make a beautiful garment that makes you dream and shows you that the outside world is almost there. We can all be together again in the sun. In color."
Kebede's modeling experience organically plays a role in her design process. Over the course of her decades-long career, she's walked runways for Balmain, Tom Ford, and Valentino, to name a few. "I feel like I've learned everything thanks to my modeling career," she said. "I've been in so many fitting rooms with incredible people, whether it's designers or seamstresses or stylists. I've learned so much about how to put things together, how to style things, how to look at proportions on a body."
The Lemlem x H&M Slip Dress is one of Kebede's favorites from the collection. "I've always wanted to make a slip dress, so this was a great opportunity to make one," she explained. "I think it's very sexy, it's very slinky, and it feels very nice on. And it's so easy. Throw it on, and you can wear it almost anywhere for any occasion."
When asked if she had any tips for styling the pieces, her response was unexpected. "I'm obsessed with wearing jewelry with swimsuits," she laughed. "I think it's so much fun, whereas before, you'd take off all your jewelry. Now it's like, actually, no. It's so fun to wear all your jewelry with your swimsuit. It's very chic."
Though COVID-19 presented plenty of obstacles, Kebede feels the timing of this collection was a blessing in disguise. "I think having the opportunity to do this collection during the pandemic was, in a way, heaven-sent," she added. "It kept me busy every day, even if it was on Zoom. I had to do the fittings in my room by myself, sending random iPhoto shots of myself with pins. I can't believe we did that, but at the same time, I'm thankful we had that because it just kind of keeps you going."
All 30 pieces in the Lemlem x H&M collection are now available online. To celebrate the collaboration, H&M is donating $100,000 to the Lemlem Foundation, which Kebede founded to "create pathways out of poverty for women artisans in Africa." She ended our conversation with a smile. "To think we were able to finally see the fruit of it in the end, it feels good."
Shop now: $30; hm.com
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