Raging Bulls

High Fashion and Exploitation

Though Devine has stood outside Stella McCartney dressed like a cow, she hasn't actually been inside the place, so a tour seems in order. The cream-colored store is hushed and pristine, an oasis of high-priced calm. Devine thinks the $2875 pale satin coat with the faux-naïf embroidery and soft felt lining—another designer might have used fur—is lovely, but then she lowers her voice and says, "When you think about what's behind it, though . . . " The flowered tile walls and fey pink streamers are likewise deemed nice, but to Devine they're reminders of PPR and all the resources it has lavished on McCartney.

In an anteroom that showcases handbags shaped liked bows, there's a huge mirrored armoire whose drawers are lined with old-fashioned floral wallpaper. "It's funny that this really speaks to me, and it also speaks to the kind of woman who shops here," Devine muses. "We both like the same elf-ish things, but they want to pay $2000 and I want to pay $20." We look for the try-on rooms, which we've heard have been fitted out to be especially warm and cozy. And indeed, flea market ephemera—old valentines, vintage buttons, paper hula girls—have been affixed to the walls. Devine says it reminds her of her cubicle at the union, which she has decorated with pictures of butterflies and flowers from old Easter Seals calendars her mom sends her. "I'm a fan of the eclectic," she says, looking a little dubiously at McCartney's bower, "but I'm not sure about this. It's kind of like they're saying we're down, we're down-to-earth, we're common. It gets my blood boiling! I feel like saying, 'Don't play with me.' "

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