We all do it.
Karl. Manolo. Donna. MJ. We refer to our favorite designers with an informality that doesn’t quite accurately belie our reverence.
But when customers and staff at the Chestnut Street H&M in Philadelphia talk about Stella, as her line debuts on Nov. 10, it is with an excitement and intimacy most designers could never evoke.
“People were like, who’s Karl Lagerfield?” said Mitchell McCartney, store mentor. “But Stella? They loved it. This is Philadelphia, we’re more of a real city, and these are real clothes. People here love her.”
And McCartney – no relation, he swears – should know since he opened the doors for the crowd stretched down the block at 10 a.m. and at 7:30 p.m. he had no intention of leaving.
“I’m going to stay for the whole thing,” he said.
The whole thing is quite apt, since by nightfall there is a slim selection of merchandise. Logo tees and rhinestone bikinis are still in abundance, and a lucky-sized fan could still put together a stunning, trendy suit, but what is on display is what the store has. They aren’t getting any more.
Most shoppers still felt lucky, having heard the stories of New York stores selling out of everything but key chains.
“I thought about saving up for a [Stella McCartney] dress, but it never really happened,” said medical student Lindsey O’Donnell, who has an upcoming wedding to attend. In a champagne-colored wrap dress from McCartney’s H&M line, O’Donnell says, “I want to look better than everyone but the bride!”
The unstructured, robe-like dress is pretty representative of the line, and McCartney’s usual fare. With the exception of some tailored suity separates and the difficult-to-wear skinny jeans, the line is characterized by loose lines and silky fabrics in colors that seem at once saturated and muted. “I like it, I like the fabric and colors she chose,” O’Donnell said.
It’s rare that a designer, let alone a designer that the masses (for this one day, at least) can afford, blends romantic, sexy and simple so seamlessly. (Speaking of seams – unexpected unfinished hems – A-plus.)
“It’s nice, simple, clean. A good intro to her line,” said Marisa Kossakowski, a meetings coordinator for the Philadelphia Bar Association.
“Take me home, put me on, and feel good. X Stella” is the message on each tag. In a free-flowing, rhinestone-trim cami that is at once easy, loose and somehow figure-conscious and form-fitting, this writer did feel good. The message, the clothes – in a fleeting moment of preening, it’s as if Stella really made them just for me. The fact that she cares enough about her fans to create a line that even the less-moneyed classes can afford makes you love her even more.
Even at H&M prices, however, some shoppers were racking up quite a bill.
“My friend had to bring down another credit card,” said Valerie Ferus, 30. “I bought every last thing I could get my hands on!”