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

Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, RSPSS, R, AI, CPLEX, SQL)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Law Costs

Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - This is a very unusual law c...

Junior VB.NET Application Developer (ASP.NET, SQL, Graduate)

£28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...

C# .NET Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, jQuery, XML, XLST)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The woman featured in the Better Together campaign's latest video  

Tea and no sympathy: The 'Better Together' campaign's mistake is to assume it knows how women think

Jane Merrick
On alert: Security cordons around Cardiff Castle ahead of this week’s Nato summit  

Ukraine crisis: Nato is at a crossroads. Where does it go from here?

Richard Shirreff
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model of a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution