I went into tonight's private (think editors, bloggers, stylists, and other industry types) shopping preview event for Isabel Marant's much-anticipated collaboration with H&M armed with my debit card and my resolve to breathe deeply through the madness.
You see, fashion people kind of lose their minds every time one of these big-time collaboration events comes around. It is SO awesome to get a chance to shop the collection the before it hits the stores -- but it's always a bit of a madhouse. A madhouse I'm very grateful to be invited to, mind you.
Tonight was the most insane one I've ever been to.
I arrived at H&M's Fifth Avenue store right at 7pm (the start time for the party). I was certain there would be a line -- I did not expect it to wrap all the way around the block.
But Isabel Marant is a darling of the fashion industry, beloved by pretty much everyone I know. She's certainly one of my most favorite designers and captures that cool girl who's not trying too hard vibe that speaks to so many. And everybody showed up to grab some of her creations at a much more reasonable price than her eponymous collection.
It's currently the coldest it's been yet this season in NYC. Like for reals cold with a whipping wind. And still we lined up. Mind you, a lot of these folks are fairly opposed to waiting in lines, EVER.
When I walked up I spotted one of my friends near the very front of the line -- she'd already been waiting for about an hour. Since she'd been giving people some serious side-eye for letting others cut, there was no way I could squeeze in there. DANG.
So I headed around the corner planning to go to the back of the line when I spotted a former co-worker and eased my way next to her as we were chatting. If the people behind us were mad, they didn't say anything -- though I did avoid eye contact for at least the first ten minutes.
I know, I know. It was totally rude to jump in front of so many others who had been waiting in the freezing cold longer than me. But I did it. And, honestly, I don't really feel all that bad about it. (Does my broken foot earn me any points back? No? Okay. I'm cool with that.)
About 25 minutes later we had moved ever so slightly and were now at least on the front side of the building right by the window with the clothes just inside beckoning to us.
Suddenly there was a bit of a ruckus at the front of the line. As best we could figure out, there was a mob of people -- not in the line and most likely not on the list either -- physically blocking the door. No one could get in.
Are Isabel Marant fangirls seriously this intense? I had no idea. There was shouting to "respect the line". People, it's just fashion. We don't need to act like monsters! Is this what it's like to be a tween/teen waiting outside a hotel trying to spot "One Direction" or Bieber?
And then the line began to move at last and a few minutes later we were inside. What happened over the next (my best guess) 10 minutes was a whirring blur of women angling through racks with massive stacks of clothes over their arms. I couldn't even get my camera out to take a picture of this madness inside. It was hunting season and people were DETERMINED to get their prey.
Seriously, the look in some of their eyes was almost feral. You do NOT want to get between a determined fashion girl and her much more reasonably priced Isabel Marant. TRUST.
I felt like a top spinning between racks getting knocked around just trying to catch a glimpse of a few of the items I really really wanted. You have to prep for these events and check out the full collection in exacting detail ahead of time, making a mental list of your must-have items. For me, that was the fringe boots and this oversized gray menswear-style blazer. Anything else was going to be a bonus.
Familiar faces whizzed by as we waved at each other and said passing hellos, sometimes asking, "Have you seen where the bolero is?" and, "Are there any scarves left?" I spotted Milla Jovovich and Molly Simms being the tall model-types that they are and standing out in a crowd.
I rolled right in a strategic move to not break my healthy foot underneath someone's stiletto and ran right into a table with large brown boxes. Boot boxes!!! Yes!! I flipped one after another on its side so I could see the size and on the last box saw a magical number "39". Sometimes I need a 40 but I was grabbing these and hoping for the best.
There's no trying on in this moment. You just grab and go. Later, if you want to find a quiet corner to slip on a couple of your items, cool. I didn't even do that, figuring I can sell anything I don't want on eBay and easily make my money back. Some people seriously just buy only the hangers from these things online -- I'm not concerned about a great jacket or a pair of boots.
In a few short minutes, I'd also picked up a pair of patterned pants, a boho skirt, and a big sweater. It was all I could take. More and more people were streaming in and I was wishing I had a Xanax. On my way upstairs to a quiet register I bumped into a saleswoman with a stack of my most-wanted blazers on her way to restock and she had one in my size. Bless.
(And can I just give a huge shout-out to all the H&M employees who totally kept their calm and were as lovely as can be in the middle of that madness?)
Now it was really checkout time. I spent more than I wanted to -- but that's usually my way. And like I said, I can definitely sell them for at least full retail price on eBay if need be.
Seriously, I don't think I was in the store more than 30 minutes. There was lovely champagne and lots of passed apps -- once you got to the non-Isabel sections of the store. But of course, I'm all NO-vember so it was home to chicken and spinach and quinoa for me.
As I hobbled into a cab and finally took a breath, I realized I was pouring with sweat and my heart was beating pretty fast. Oh, fashion, the ridiculous things I do for you.
One of my friends texted me after we both arrived safely home to say, "That whole scene was like Lord of the Flies. I felt like Piggy about to get hit with the conch." She was not the only one to reference the novel and poor Piggy.
So, it was bonkers insane and I'd totally do it all over again because I'm kind of bonkers insane and I really love Isabel Marant and lots of the things that I bought.
I'm still on the fence with the blazer (I can't decide if it works on my body or if it just makes me look enormous) and the pants (I'm leaning toward yes on those because they feel like something cool and different for me). But the skirt and sweater are awesome and look great.
And the boots! I love the boots so very much. I can't wait until I'm all healed and can wear them. I would have stood out in the cold and battled through the crowd just for these alone.
I have to say all of the fabrics feel really nice on everything I purchased. And the craftsmanship looks good too -- definitely worth the price, which is higher than normal H&M clothing.
The collection hits stores (and online) on the 14th. Are you planning on trying to snag something? If so, I wish a calm shopping experience upon you but I have a feeling things will be a little nutty at a number of H&M locations on Thursday.
And what's the craziest fashion experience you've ever had? Was it a bananas sample sale? Wedding dress shopping like that episode of "Friends"? Talk to me.