How I survived the Kate Moss for Topshop launch
It's been well over 24 hours since I first started lining up along with the rest of the die-hard Kate Moss fans and I'm glad to report that I survived in-tact and without any scratches, bruises or whatever else usually comes with the territory of high-street launches. As I sat on the cold pavement at 2pm outside Topshop's Oxford street store along with the first handful people to queue (mostly made up of other journalists) I got talking to Natalie and her mother. The pair had just arrived by the Eurostar from France and were startled to find that there weren't more shoppers queuing up. "Are we the only non-press people here?" she asked me a little embarrassed. I told her I was a fashion blogger for Catwalk Queen and she revealed that she had just been reading CQ the day before to get our tips on how to survive the event. "I told my mum about your tip to wee on the clothes to mark your territory," she said. I winced as I waved to her mum.
Next I met up with the very first person to start queuing, 16-year-old Yasmin from South London. The poor thing was on her own and looked nervous as one after one the press approached her firing off the same questions. "Why are you here? What do you expect to get from the range? What is it about Kate Moss that everyone loves?" I almost felt guilty for even speaking to her until I told her I was from Catwalk Queen. "Isn't that a website?" she asked me. "Yes!" I squealed in delight. "Oh yeah, I love Catwalk Queen" she added. I was stoked, the first person to queue up the Kate Moss range was a CQ reader!
As the hours slowly dragged I started to feel a bit dehydrated and wondered what everyone else was doing back at the office. The people in the queue were already antsy and not looking forward to the long-haul. What on earth was I doing here? I wondered. And then remembered what my job was. At one point an over-zealous photographer got his camera a little too close to the journalist next to me who asked the pap whether or not he realised that he was snapping the press. "Well what are you doing in the line then?" he snarled. "I thought this thing was for the shoppers". "Who says we're not shoppers?" I retaliated. He skulked off in search of better prey. 'The grumpy old fart' I thought angrily, hasn't he got anything better to do than snap the 15 or so people who were queuing at this stage?
The day progressed with further instances of passers-by either laughing at us, photographing us or condemning us for queuing for clothes. I felt myself go through the gamut of emotions from embarrassment to boredom to excitement to anxiety. Queues of rubber-neckers started to form to take pictures of us in the queue - work that one out? Then my colleague Laura showed up armed with bottles of water and sweets. I wanted to hug her. We made friends with the girls around us and together we bonded, a safe little group all sharing tactics and pick'n'mix to keep our energy up! As the hours dragged I thought I might end up in the same spot forever, my bottom a permanent fixture along Great Portland Street stuck to the side of Miss Selfridge...and then the security guards told us to get up and stand. "Move along!" he barked as though we were a bunch of night-clubbers looking for a fight. Great we're finally moving, I thought, until I realised it was just a dirty trick to allow more room for the crowds of people to tack onto the end of the queue.
The worst part was we were now forced to stand, and with another four hours to go my heart dropped. This was hell! Camera crews and VIP's (or those who thought they were VIP's) began to saunter up and down next to us. The BBC pulled up in two vans and began hurling equipment out the back doors. As one of only two crews allowed inside they went to task immediately, wiring their reporters up and setting up cameras along the pavement. "Why are you here?" said the reporter to every single person he could grab, drawing laughter and looks of 'are you serious?' in response. I couldn't help but laugh. Why they had a sent a 50+ year-old male newsreader who obviously knew nothing about the collection, Topshop or fashion in general? If they had wanted to get a "male perspective" on the event then they failed, for all it achieved was to make him appear a laughing stock and the rest of us seem like air-head fashion-obsessed morons.
Luckily Hilary Alexander from The Telegraph was on hand to ask some informed questions. I was relieved to see her get in with the crowd and mix with the fans. I tried to grab her but was scared I'd lose my spot. Oh well, hopefully I'd get a chance to catch up with her at Graduate Fashion Week... you know, because we're so tight and everything! Topshop staff were kind enough to hand out water, bags of sweets and popcorn to the waiting crowds. I would have preferred the clothes but popcorn was a welcome alternative.My fellow Shinies, Gemma and Isabelle, arrived just as we had received our wristbands. As one of the people in the first group I was relieved when I got my hands on the 'grass' green wristband to confirm my place in the queue.
Two hours later and my feet were sore, my head was hurting and my stomach was turning as we neared the entrance. Rumours were flying that there were over 3,000 people in the queue behind us. Thousands of reporters, photographers and general onlookers crammed the pavement outside the store to wait for the big reveal. We of course would be lucky to even see Kate Moss as she was to appear in the main window display and we were perched on the corner. I wasn't too bothered by this; having queued for nearly seven hours my instinct at this stage would have been to slap her rather than squeal over her. Fearing for my life, images of me getting my eyes gauged out, trampled on or crushed by the bulging masses behind flashed through my mind. I began to feel sick and after drinking the extra large Starbucks latte that Isabelle had brought me to urge me on I thought I may also pee my pants.
Finally the moment had arrived. We could see Miss Moss through the crack in the curtain waving to us. She was wearing one of the most expensive items in the collection the floor length red frock and looked amazing. I had to giggle when I saw her puffing away on a cigarette inside the store as she prepared to take her position in the window. Then the paps raised their cameras and the flash bulbs went off to a sea of screams. This lasted a whole of ten seconds as the red curtain revealed the one woman who had created all of this fuss. Kate Moss was on show for all the world to see posing next to mannequins and then it was over... just like that.
My heart flipped - now it was our turn. As one of the first 20 to be allowed in the store, police were forced to hold the onlookers back from stealing our wristbands and harassing us. I was packing it! Security laid down the law by warning that if they saw anyone run or push they would be removed. This was enough to frighten anyone from trying any elbow-style antics. We were led inside like celebs taking to a red carpet. Everyone remained calm as we took the escalator downstairs to more press and cameras. Laura and I split up, both fully informed of what we wanted. I had my eye set on the white asymmetrical dress which I was informed would not be available for another two weeks. What?! Then I saw Philip Green's daughter wearing it which was just like rubbing salt in the wound!
I did manage to grab the red dress that Kate wore - a limited edition piece only one of 100. The spangly dress, yellow one shoulder frock, red skinny jeans and black halter neck dress also made it into my haul. Considering we were limited to only five items per person, between Laura and I we did pretty well. Although I must say I've never spent £500 so quickly in my life. We were the first to the cashiers and the first ones out the door. Thinking we'd be lucky to escape the throngs of people out the main entrance by exiting through a side door we were quickly mistaken when then faced with a mass of media. In a blink of an eye I was having to transform from frenzied shopper to my media persona by feeding the waiting TV reporters, print journalists and radio presenters a barrage of answers always remembering to drop the CQ name. My picture taken a billion times (look out for Grazia next week where you will possibly see my scared face!) I literally ran to Gemma and threw my arms around her. I was never so happy to see someone in my life. I had survived... but now I was scared someone would mug me for my shopping.
After over 7 hours of queuing, too many crisps, not enough coffee and the biggest emotional roller coaster ever, it was worth it just to be part of the experience. My feet may be killing me today and if someone mentions Kate Moss' name one more time I may actually strangle them but what can I say? I took one for the fashion blogosphere.