Collaborations in the fashion industry are par for the course — at this point, they almost feel unavoidable. But, when they work (which is often the case, especially when it comes to retail giants like Target and H&M), they can be much more than simply a marketing ploy — instead, they're big opportunities (with big budgets) for really creative projects. So as the year comes to a close, let's a look back at the best, worst and most "meh" collaborations of 2014.
Most On Brand: Alexa Chung + Eyeko
Fashion's favorite "It" girl is known for her perfect cat eye, so it made a lot of sense when she collaborated with British brand Eyeko to release her first cosmetics collaboration this year. It was refreshingly simple, budget-friendly and came in charming packaging.
BEST MARKETING MOVE: MILEY CYRUS + JEREMY SCOTT
The buzz around Jeremy Scott's spring 2015 show was intense, and the designer ensured his crazy collection — which took inspiration from DIY hippie and music festival culture — was on everyone's mind (and social media) feeds by collaborating with Miley Cyrus. The pop star created the jewelry for the show, which she proudly wore as she took a walk down the runway with the designer.
BEST WEARABLE TECH: OPENING CEREMONY + INTEL
Intel has partnered with a lot of brands on wearables, but the MICA bracelet (that would be "My Intelligent Communication Accessory") it created with Opening Ceremony stood out this year simply because it looked better than any other wearable tech pieces. The bracelet shows text messages, meeting alerts and general notifications and comes in black and white watersnake, with either pearls and lapis or tiger's eye and obsidian.
BIGGEST WTF: MAC + THE SIMPSONS
MAC joined forces with the classic animated comedy series to celebrate the show's 25th anniversary, because why not. The limited-edition makeup centered around Marge Simpson and featured bright yellow packaging and product names like Nacho Cheese Explosion (its a yellow tinted lip gloss). There were also nail stickers with Marge's face on them.
BEST HYPE: ALEXANDER WANG + H&M
The marketing strategy for Alexander Wang's capsule collection for H&M was impressive. An announcement at Coachella was the perfect place to build the frenzy that peaked 6 months later when it arrived in stores. Not surprisingly, H&M's U.S. site crashed before the collection even went live online and some shoppers bought as much as five thousand dollars' worth at a time. As far as H&M collaborations go, this one hit the mark regardless of how much product actually sold.
BIGGEST OVERACHIEVER: PHARRELL
The Grammy-nominated hit-maker might just be the hardest working entertainer around, and this year he's lent his creative genius to an insane amount of projects including a scent with Comme des Garcons, a line of t-shirts and hats with Uniqlo, sunglasses with Moncler, leather goods with Moynat and a long-term deal with Adidas that has already resulted in a unisex capsule promoting gender and ethnic equality. Not to mention the short film he created with Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel. Will this man ever be overexposed? So far, it doesn't seem like it.
MOST SNOOZE-WORTHY: CARA DELEVINGNE + MULBERRY
Mulberry tried to lift its sales and recapture the magic of its successful "Alexa" bags by collaborating with model of the year Cara Delevingne on a line of 3-in-1 bags with personal touches inspired by her tattoos. Despite being the kind of collaboration that magazine front-of-books were made for, the ample press coverage didn't translate into major sales. The company posted half-year losses of over $1 million in December. If you are looking for an over-committed spokesperson, you've found one.
MOST CHARMING: ANNA KENDRICK + KATE SPADE
The only thing calming my excitement for Pitch Perfect 2 is Anna Kendrick's pitch perfect appearance in Kate Spade New York's holiday 2014 campaign. The fact that she isn't on more magazine covers or starring in more campaigns is something I don't get all — she's funny and gorgeous, as is evident in the shoppable video she stars in for the brand. Drinking out of a champagne bottle with a straw while locked out of her apartment with tons of Kate Spade swag? It all works because of Kendrick.
MOST UBIQUITOUS: BARBIE
In a year when Barbie was overshadowed in the eyes of little girls everywhere by the hugely popular Frozen characters, the company inexplicably decided to focus on the fashion industry instead. September 2014 saw the arrival of limited edition "Barbie Lagerfeld" dolls (which sold out on Net-a-Porter), a Barbie x CFDA party to celebrate designs by Charlotte Ronson, Rebecca Taylor and others for the dolls, and most theatrically, a Barbie themed runway show at Moschino complete with roller-skating models.
BEST HIGH-LOW: TIE, OSTWALD HELGASON X ALDO AND ALTUZARRA FOR TARGET
Beloved but under-the-radar designers Susanne Ostwald and Ingvar Helgason made their accessories debut as part of the second installation of Aldo Rise. The affordable line was bright, color-blocked and filled with interesting textures, just like the Ostwald Helgason runway collections. And maxing out at $130 for a pair of shoes, it was much easier to purchase.
When Joseph Altuzarra — he of the thigh-high slits and even higher price points — announced that he would be creating a range for Target, we were very excited, but also had no idea what to expect. The designer was able to translate his sexy, mature aesthetic into a line of womenswear and accessories for the mass retailer without sacrificing his vision, which was not an easy task. While the pieces didn't sell out as quickly as some of the year's other collaborations, they accomplished what Altuzarra hoped they would: offering something grown-up and authentic to his eponymous brand at a more accessible price.