Topshop's tops.
Topshop's tops.


I don't believe you, Orange County.

You lined up for the opening of H&M at South Coast Plaza this past April?

Seriously. H&M?

Especially when there were locations not too far away, like in Pasadena or Los Angeles?

It's not like they were unveiling some hard-to-get, exclusive line.

What exactly were you waiting for—M by Madonna? Despite a pretty hardcore advert campaign and tons of coverage from the press, the collection failed to impress and, even worse, failed to sell. Though stores in the U.K. were mobbed, with lines—oh, 'scuse me, queues—starting up as early as 6 a.m. the day of the unveiling. But over here in the U.S., tons of pieces from the Madonna line are still up for grabs.

Not that you'd want it or anything.

Not unless you're into polyester digs like white deep-V disco dresses that look ready for the roller rink or Studio 54 or something that someone only like, oh, I don't know, Madonna can pull off.

Affordable-yet-stylish import stores such as H&M (of Sweden), Zara (of Spain) and Mango (also Spain) have just barely started to grace the American mall. Though most consumers here still seem to opt for Abercrombie, places like H&M and Zara make super-trendy items readily available to the masses—and at prices (usually) so favorable it easily renders the clothing into disposable pieces you won't feel bad about recycling out for next season.

H&M has made headlines for "guest star" designers in the past—Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney, Viktor & Rolf. Most recently, in addition to the makes-me-throw-up-in-my-mouth-a-little M by Madonna line (I still love you, Madge), the store unveiled a swim line by Kylie Minogue—which has outsold Madonna's line thus far.

Anyway, Orange Countians, behold the real holy grail of cheap-but-awesome fashion stores: U.K.'s Topshop. While whispers of a Manhattan location (of course—they got H&M first, too. Bastards) are about, the chain recently unveiled a line designed by the ultimate fashion icon since the '90s, Kate Moss.

Okay, okay. So I'm a bit biased when it comes to Moss—but her iconic hipster style (before the word "hipster" attained the definition it has today) that's a combination of the rock-music scene and high-end fashion has influenced all the contemporary modern-day celebs considered to be even somewhat stylish: Kirsten Dunst, the Olsens and Sienna Miller, to name a few.

Her line for Topshop has been dismissed by critics, saying it's not fashion, but rather pieces right out of Moss' wardrobe. Which is why I like it. Moss isn't trying to be incendiary or revolutionize fashion with her shrunken vests or teeny hot pants. Her style has come to be glorified, and she knows it. So why rock the boat? That's exactly what I wanted: a line that emulated her style, her dress. It wasn't a way for Moss to break into the the fashion-design world. Smart.

And good news: Topshop and Barney's New York department stores have joined forces to bring Americans the Kate Moss line, which had its American unveiling last Wednesday. And shamelessly, I was there. There wasn't much: Highlights included the button-up wifebeaters (which can make even a nonexistent rack look amazing at a mere $24 (try it!), Moss' signature vests ($150), skinny jeans ($109) and the most popular piece of the line, the pansy-print dress ($120), pictured here.

I watched as a teary teenager asked the sales dude when more sizes were coming in: "Not till August," he said.

I smirked. And then I walked out of South Coast Plaza $300 poorer.

—Vickie Chang


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