Genevieve Fox: Come on, Stella. You've had your fun. Now deliver the goods

It's like cocaine, give a first-time user one line and they're hooked


Go Stella! The celebrity fashion designer must have raised a glass or six this weekend following the launch on Thursday of the Stella McCartney collection for high-street chain H & M.

OK, it wasn't all roses and laurels: she didn't get the Designer of the Year gong, after all. That fashion "Oscar" went to Christopher "chav" Bailey, the man who took Burberry into the high street and beyond. But she did, single-handedly, orchestrate a degree of hysteria among the nation's women not seen since well, the nation's young women screamed at her dad Paul.

Exaggeration? Maybe. But hype has, regrettably, become Stella's middle name. The habitually sour-faced famous daughter is up there with Kate Moss and Sienna Miller as style icons - but let's not forget that icon is a term as debased as "designer" or "celebrity".

Not that that has ever bothered Stella. Who didn't tut-tut and harrumph when the famous vegetarian offspring first launched herself as a fashion designer in 1995. Sure, she wasn't launching herself as a singer (that would have been embarrassing) or a gourmet purveyor of soya sausages, but she was undoubtedly hoping to trade on daddy's surname. Branding, she knew even then, is everything.

It was only when I won one of her frocks at a charity auction in the late 1990s that I realised she had edge. That dress turns heads to this day. Her clothes are sexy, sophisticated, elegant. She is the Kate Moss of designers: girls love her, want her, want to be her.

Which is presumably why hundreds of them pitched up at 6am to queue outside the Oxford Circus branch of H & M. Women want a part of her, which is presumably why, in the frenzy and excitement of last week's shopping spree, they forgot to feel patronised when she offered up a few golden crumbs to the hungry hoards. That's why she has sold out. She is playing to the gallery.

Can punters not see that Stella is merely using them, the common hoards, to reinforce her brand? Make them mad for it, make them want it, make them weep when they fail to bag a trademark silk camisole or black tuxedo jacket that, for once, is affordable.

It's like cocaine: give a first-time user one line, just one line, and they're hooked, chasing that first euphoric hit for ever and a day. They won't succeed, of course, since Stella won't be selling any more of her poor people's diffusion line.

Santa's sack is empty: Patrick Barnston of H & M's merchandising department informed me yesterday morning the collection was a one-off.

"It's been a huge success," he told me as we surveyed the dregs of Thursday's sale in the High Street Kensington branch. "Only selected lines are left." I confess I'd had Thursday the 10th in my diary for four weeks. I had failed to snare even a pair of blue jeans.

Churlishly I glanced across at the lemon baby doll tops (£34.99); you'd have to pay me to wear it, I thought. As for the remaining sequinned cardies (£119.99, yes really), let's just say I could see Camilla Parker-Bowles in one.

Listen up, Stella: if you want to keep us peasants onside, pile 'em high, sell 'em cheap. And make sure there's enough to go round. Otherwise we'll think you're manipulating us.

It's certainly what sassily dressed Alex Atty, 16, who is studying for her A-levels, thinks. "I am not liking this 'I'll be a celebrity and do a clothes range thing.' It's poncey. She obviously thought: 'I'm getting a bit old, I want to be in the public eye, so I'll do a clothes range.'"

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