H&M/Lanvin fever descended in London last week with a ferocity not seen since grown women flattened one another at the opening of the Primark store in Oxford Street three years ago.
Queuing round the block and 10-minute-only supermarket sweep-style buying restrictions led to tactical group manoeuvres that saw certain flushed and triumphant souls emerging with bags and bags of the stuff in tow, presumably destined to be sold on eBay for many times the price that was originally paid. No one could want that much Lanvin for H&M, even in their dreams, and a T-shirt illustrated by designer Alber Elbaz that sold out in a matter of hours is, at the time of writing, on sale to "buy it now" for the princely sum of £999, which seems to prove the point. It remains to be seen if anyone will be desperate enough to fork out that amount for it.
More importantly, at least some discerning consumers out there must be wondering: is it even remotely chic – or even strictly seemly – to behave in this way? And, yes, that is a rhetorical question. It almost goes without saying that times have changed since Virginia Woolf deemed shopping one of the only ways for the modern woman to establish order – and indeed control – in her life, but there is still at least a certain sense of sisterhood in a day's leisurely retail therapy, or even just window-shopping with friends. Spend, spend, spending might not be on the agenda, but that doesn't stop us wondering.
Whatever, there's not much orderly or, even less so, sisterly about the rampant consumerism on display where this, the latest of any number of designer/high street collaborations that continue to proliferate, was concerned. And with this in mind, although the fashion follower might feel happy with her purchase – and that is just how it should be – she might also be aware that it is the brains behind such marketing phenomena that are controlling the situation here. And isn't fashion – and shopping, too – meant to be fun? Elbows this sharp certainly don't do it for me.