“Kay-ate! Kay-ate! Kay-ate!” chanted the mob of eager, over-caffeinated shoppers waiting for Kate Moss to arrive this morning for the opening of the Topshop flagship store in New York. It’s no overstatement to say that New York fashionistas have long prayed for the day the London-based clothing retailer would bring its cheap, trendy threads and exclusive line designed by Moss to our side of the pond. And after a disappointing seven-month delay–reportedly due to setbacks during construction–the four-level, $20 million store is finally here.
At about a quarter to 11, the line starting at the intersection of Broadway and Broome appeared to be at least several hundred shoppers deep, wrapping around the corner and halfway down Crosby. Leading the fist-pumping cheers was a skinny Topshop spokeswoman with a thick British accent on a microphone.
“We have Topshop!” screamed the woman with the microphone.
“We have Topshop!” the crowd screamed back.
The woman laughed hysterically. “I love the way you say it with an American accent,” she said, and then repeated the line back in a nasally, whiny American accent: “Weeeah heahhve Tooopshoop! Hahahaha!” The Americans, who started lining up at 6 a.m., had no choice but to withstand the abuse, downing free British cheese biscuits (ick!) and cups of coffee to stay warm.
“New York, are you ready to shop?!” she cried.
“Wooooo!” the crowd screamed
“People across the street–are you ready to shop?!” she asked.
Two maintenance men in dirty overalls jumped up and down: “Wooooo!” they said.
A screen with an image of the Union Jack across the store’s entryway slowly lifted to reveal Kate Moss in a floor-length emerald-green gown and black leather jacket beside Topshop owner Sir Philip Green. Blue and red confetti rained down on them while Moss pouted and posed for a few photos. And then, after about 15 seconds, she was gone, dashing inside the store even as Green tried to coax her back out. But no luck–her contractually-obligated nanosecond was up.
The Topshop secret service (burly men dressed in black trench coats with earpieces) ushered small groups of about 30 or 40 shoppers into the store at a time. Young men and women called “Style Advisors” raced around to help customers create their own skillfully mismatched Carnaby Street look from the overwhelming number of fashions on display.
We’d heard that Moss’s line sold out in three minutes in London, but on the store’s second floor, where her line is kept (signs warn that customers are limited to only five Moss pieces), the pieces were slow to be snapped up. Perhaps it was the high prices (a grey suede jacket is $310), or the fact that some of it looked like a suburban housewife’s idea of cool (a short floral quilted coat? Really?).
But there are plenty of other great items throughout the store, from trench coats ($135) to ballet flats ($30) to glittery gold leggings ($44) to silk dresses ($90), none of which will disappoint. The menswear label Topman, which is in the basement, offered lots of preppy styles–suspenders, skinny ties, and V-neck sweaters (two for $60). Though the $280 price tag for one cheaply-made skinny-fit shiny blazer made us wonder if guys wouldn’t be better off waiting for the next Barneys sale. In fact much of the clothing felt more expensive than we’d expected it to be–but, then again, we guess it’s cheaper than that airfare to London.
We searched in vain for the store’s muse (could she be in the DJ booth? getting a free manicure?), but she’d wisely fled the manic scene–and, because we’re no dummies, we too headed for the exit.