Alice Jones: If this cattle market is fashion's idea of democracy, I won't be getting in line

 

Share
Related Topics

They started queuing at 3.30am. Queuing outside a shop, for £60 gold T-shirts and £25 plastic bangles. It's extraordinary, really, given that designer collaborations on the high street now seem to come round about as often as a Circle Line train – probably more often.

This time, the queues were for Marni, the chic and somewhat niche Italian label, who have designed a new cut-price collection for H&M. Marni-mania comes hot on the heels of Beckham-mania, provoked by a range of the footballer's pants for men at the store last month, and Versace-mania, whose greatest hits collection caused a gaudy stir in November.

Stella McCartney started the most recent over-hyped spate of high-street hook-ups in 2005. Since then, every designer with an eye for a quick buck and some free advertising has done a stint on the gritty fashion frontline of wire coat hangers, fluorescent lighting and plastic bags. And while the days of rioting among the racks are long gone – today's shopping "events" are military in style (so chic!) with wristbands, timeslots and one of each item per person – there is still a label-inspired hysteria at work.

There must be – how else to explain the phenomenon of people waiting for six cold hours in order to shop for 10 minutes before obediently heeding a whistle blast and herding to the checkout to spend a month's rent on clothes that are instantly recognisable as cheap knock-offs, and worse than that, cheap knock-offs that thousands of other suckers also own?

The collections are trumpeted as democratising fashion, but there is little that is democratic about whipping shoppers up to spend more than they usually would in a value-for-money chain and  treating them like recessionista cattle in the process. There is another way of democratising fashion, of course: don't charge, as Marni does in its current collection, £600 for a cardigan.

As for the designers, their occasional descents from couture's Mount Olympus show up an unflattering double standard. Quick to complain when the high street takes too much inspiration from their catwalk creations, they are happy to use its mass reach to rake in a little extra cash on the side. When they see those queues, they must be laughing up their immaculate sleeves.

* It's tough being Madonna. You have get up, look after your children, talk to people, sign things and buy clothes, like, all the time. Day in, day out. It's relentless. I know this because the Queen of Pop™ reveals as much on her new album. In "I don't give a", Madonna apparently relates a day in the life of her marriage to Guy Ritchie. "Wake up, this is your life, children on your own, gotta plan on the phone, meet the press, buy a dress, do all this to impress", she raps, with shades of R2D2. "Do ten things at once and if you don't like it, I don't give a [bleep]."

For Madonna, the days of being a "good girl" and a "perfect wife" are now past, her eight-year marriage having ended in 2008. Why, then, has she decided to sing about it now? The secret to Madonna's longevity is that she has never revealed the slightest chink in her D&G carapace. Here, singing about "calling the babysitter" and "signing contracts", she comes dangerously close to doing the one thing she fears most – acting her age.

* The BBC wants to get the nation talking – and eavesdropping. The Listening Project invites people to share intimate conversations and lifechanging chats and will broadcast them on Radio 4 before archiving  them at the British Library. The idea is to take an aural snapshot of the UK, of its inflections and its interests. It could be fascinating, or it could play out like a  phonecall with Sybil Fawlty: "I know ... I know ... Oooh, I know ..." The main problem, though, is that participants will have to decide to record their chit-chat in advance, which might kill off the spontaneity somewhat. In which case, why bother? We already have a programme that lets us listen in on the stilted, trivial, "real-life" conversations of normal people – it's called The Only Way is Essex.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Operations and Maintenance Engineer - Solar

£30000 - £40000 Per Annum plus benefits/bonus package: The Green Recruitment C...

Sales and Maketing Director (Designate) , Watford, Hertfordshire

£60- £70K OTE £120k Plus Car: Charter Selection: Major multi-million pound lan...

Graduate Web Developer

£18000 - £28000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Excellent opportun...

Graduate Database Developer (SQL)

£18000 - £28000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Excellent opportun...

Day In a Page

Read Next
lowers, candles and other tributes in front of the Netherlands Embassy in memory of the victims of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17  

To punish Putin for the MH17 disaster we must boycott Russia 2018

Jack Gilbert
 

The daily catch-up: Joe on Vlad, banks of the Jordan and Blair's radicalism

John Rentoul
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor