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Friday, November 14, 2008

Comming to Blows

Rebecca Voight bought Comme des Garçons for H&M and lived to tell about it...

I lined up in front of H&M's Blvd Haussmann flagship in Paris half an hour before the 9:30 am opening yesterday and found myself surrounded by, and bonding with, a United Nations of Reiettes, as in devotees of Rei Kawakubo. A French girl in a black down jacket and red ballet flats, who'd been through this before when H&M collaborated with Viktor & Rolf, had already pre-shopped and priced her wish list online. A Japanese girl who works in Alber Elbaz's atelier at Lanvin, but who had the day off, worried she might collapse in the battleground we were about to enter. And during our entire vigil, a chain-smoking Belgian in head-to-toe Chanel, obviously part of an eBay gang, called friends in line in other European cities to compare conditions and fine-tune her buying strategy. Then a brawl ensued near us when a couple of Comme “fans" tried to crash the line and were ejected by the ferocious crowd.

Once inside it was like being on the set of Caligula. And, by all accounts, this year was tame compared to last year's Cavalli for H&M launch as apparently Comme des Garçons fans possess more decorum. But clearly that's relative. I witnessed clothes being trampled on by a diverse gaggle of style hounds and usually timid Japanese girls stripping between the racks of the men’s department to avoid the impossible lines for the fitting rooms.

Despite this, everyone in the store was happy. It was a slightly delirious happiness—like laughing gas. It wasn't long before the Metro was full of happy, mostly Japanese, customers clutching bags bursting with enough polka dots to make Yayoi Kusama jump for joy.

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