Couture du Jour – November 15, 2005

By Sarah Cohan

The opening day of Stella McCartney’s new line at H&M was stellar, to say the least. Her campaign, notorious for exposing Kate Moss’s cocaine addiction, finally hit stores this last Thursday. H&M’s Michigan Avenue location opened its doors at 10 a.m. to a line that continued all the way around the block. Tape was used to control the crowds, who were waiting impatiently to get their hands on McCartney’s new designs. I didn’t get into the store until noon, and by that time half of her line was already gone. Inside the store, it was complete mayhem; the changing room line was 20 minutes long, and McCartney’s corner looked as though pillagers had run through it. H&M experienced its biggest crowd ever that morning, thanks to McCartney’s amazing creativity.

McCartney graduated from Central Saint Martin’s in 1995, and her career skyrocketed from there. Upon her graduation, Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus and many other stores purchased her line. Two years after graduation she was appointed creative director for the house of Chloe. Her work for Chloe increased the house’s popularity immensely, due to her creative designs and ad campaigns. She launched her own line in 2001, and it continues to be a success.

Just a year ago, H&M housed visiting designer Karl Lagerfeld from the house of Chanel. His line sold out in one day in New York and lasted only a week in other stores. H&M continued that trend this year with visiting designer McCartney. She is, in fact, Paul McCartney’s daughter, but that doesn’t mean her style is anything short of brilliant. Although her line carries a tremendous price difference from H&M’s, McCartney did not feel like she had to compromise on either the cut or the fabric. She uses silks, chiffons, cashmeres, and wools. McCartney decided to make her collection for H&M a “best of” her iconic items.

The cuts and fabrics she used for the line fit and work impeccably. She mixes whimsical chic with hardcore punk in order to appeal to all H&M customers. As I dug through the leftovers from that morning, I noticed that a few items had been completely bought out, including the headliner: a lovely sea-foam green dress with silk inlays and a million ties that let you reshape the dress however you want it. The double-breasted tuxedo overcoat was also completely gone. A few items that appealed to the masses still remained, like her diamond encrusted silk tank top that virtually every woman in the store was holding. Stella’s line wouldn’t be complete without a top-of-the-line suit or two, and she carried that tradition over to H&M. Her blazers fit like a dream, with no extra tailoring needed.

While I didn’t get to experience most of her line in person, I still found the H&M website well worth checking out. McCartney originally asked Kate Moss to model for her campaign, but once Moss’s cocaine habit was exposed, McCartney had to choose other models. For the runway show, she had the models play musical chairs, which was delightfully entertaining. The winning model leapt for the chair in the final round only to have the other model rip the chair out from under her so she fell to the ground. McCartney’s commercials for the line are also wonderfully amusing. Shots of the models swinging and talking on the phone while one model is stuck in the floor show the playfulness of the line.

Although most of her line has likely been sold out from the Michigan Avenue store, it is still definitely worth looking at. Only H&M could provide such unbeatable prices for a high-profile designer. Even the guy working the changing room agreed: when asked how his day was going, he replied, “Stellar!”