Ready to play cool

Matthew Williamson’s haute hippie look is splashing through H&M; with a kaleidoscope of the strong color and ethnic influences the British designer is known for. It’s a collection that will have you booking a sunny getaway as an excuse for picking up the clothes and accessories.

The first installment of Williamson’s collaboration with the fast-fashion chain -- a selection of women’s apparel -- went into H&M; stores two weeks ago. The second round, which will land in more than 1,600 H&M; stores starting Thursday, includes women’s, men’s, swimwear and accessories, marking the first time Williamson has tried his hand at menswear. Despite his penchant for hot pink and bold prints, he’s created a wearable men’s line that could work for preppies and pop-star wannabes alike.

There are bright pink jeans, and a pink and blue tie-dye top whose appeal is probably limited to “American Idol” contestants. But a cream seersucker suit and short-sleeve Cuban-inspired shirt are island cool and would work for summer weddings or pool parties. There are also edgy, casual pieces such as a black hoodie with neon prisms printed on the front and an amazing navy blue leather blazer with motorcycle-jacket detail and graphite-colored studs on the cuffs and lapels.

Mexican-style embroidery, striking bird prints and breezy caftans highlight a women’s collection fit for the exotic world traveler. Think Jade Jagger (a close friend of Williamson) on holiday in Ibiza: part boho, part bombshell. But here, bohemian-inspired doesn’t mean “fits like a roomy sack.” The cuts of this line are slim and not too forgiving, save for the dresses and blousy tops. Shorts, skinny pants and jackets are on the smaller side, and look good paired with the baggier pieces -- they just may not be as comfortable. Quality-wise, this is one of the store’s strongest collaborations. Neon and fuchsia can easily look cheap and chintzy, but this fabric feels good, and zippers and hardware on dresses and jackets are heavy and solid.


To round out the vacation-friendly line, Williamson has added a fun group of accessories that includes a color pinwheel beach bag and passport holder, bird-printed chartreuse pareos and sunglasses with brightly printed frames and sexy, smoky lenses.

It’s the complete collection for a sun-soaked holiday, whether that’s on exotic island shores or in your own backyard.