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You know Frank—he's been writing about menswear, sales, television, new shops, the recession, Lisa Loeb, the Golden Girls and getting blasted for Racked for over two years. Well, we think it's time you got to know him and his quirky-irreverent views on life and fashion even better with his column: Love, Frank. Taking the form of an open letter and always signed with love, Frank will rant about whatever style-related conundrum he encounters in a given week. So buckle your two-toned leather Moschino belts, folks, it's going to be ? Something.
So: Margiela x H&M hits stores this morning. But last night, in H&M's sparkling new Columbus Circle shop (celebrating it's grand opening with the crazy that is a high profile collaboration launch), the retailer threw a party and pre-sale. Once again, I was there—for, like Marni before this, Margiela is one of those brands that just makes the whole mess worth it. Someone else covered Versace.
So here goes—another crazy ride down Collaboration Launch Lane. In convenient timeline form:
5:45: Just made it to the Shops at Columbus Circle—the store is brand new, so I have to find it. This proves rather easy as you can see it shimmering from the second level the moment you walk in the main entrance.
5:50: There's no real line yet—the velvet ropes are still totally roped off so no-one can really start queuing. A clump of about 20-ish are standing around. Someone with a cart laden with approximately 22 million all-white Margiela x H&M shopping bags just rolled by. The bags are enormous.
5:51: The store is brand new—the main display in front is winter white, top to bottom. I hope they aren't serving any merlot tonight.
5:52: This is stupid and C. Wonder is next door so I pop in there to pine for bird-printed blouses and pony-hair cheetah print belts that don't exist in men's sizes.
5:56: Most of that clump turned out to be models, and they were just lead into a room to the left of the store entrance—they did not look like models. What is going on? Without the models there are maybe six people standing around. Why is it so dead? Are people at the Fifth Avenue flagship? Do people just not want to come up to Columbus circle? I mean, I didn't.
5:58: After a security guard asked myself and two other guys three times if we were "actually" on the list (without "actually" consulting any lists), we are allowed to join about four other people who already made it into the roped off area. Did that happen while I was eying monogrammed cheese boards in C. Wonder? Whatever—I'm sixth in line. Three women—one in fabulous red tuxedo pants; and a guy in a fake leather jacket.
6:01: Really worth blowing out of work early: There are still only three people behind me. Meanwhile, staffers are still putting finishing touches on this brand-new shop. Someone is currently putting up a series of posters.
6:03: The "models" are all putting on white aprons in that room. Are they the cater waiters? No matter: It's fantastic—like the labcoats staffers wear in Margiela stores. I wonder if employees at the Margiela design studio have a uniform or wear labcoats? Perhaps under Martin, but probably not since. Sigh: To work under a mad genius who forces his minions to wear starched white labcoats.
6:08: Six in line behind me including two impossibly tall French women. Where are the hoards? Marni was around the corner by this time last collab.
6:11: A model or staffer just walked right into a glass door. In her defense, they're very clean.
6:15: There are 18 people in line. Maybe this will be civilized and sparsely attended? Bringing up the rear, a girl in mirrored leggings and a mirrored bag—the mirrors don't match. It's a lot. A staffer just blew by in one of those Margiela x H&M trompe l'oeil bra tops with a long black skirt. It looks cute; she looks insanely uncomfortable.
6:20: Everyone is talking about how dead it is. There aren't more than 35 people in line.
6:30: The line is maybe 50 or 60 deep; people are really starting to cluck about what exactly they're going to buy. The boys behind me are freaking out about the painted jeans and the scarf sweater. The ladies ahead are talking knits.
6:36: There are maybe 80 people in line. It's calm and there is still a lot of unpopulated rope.
6:37: A slew of aproned, black-clad "models" have emerged with those Margiela x H&M picket signs from the ads. They've formed a silent row in front of the ropes.
6:40: A crowd of shoppers and passersby is growing around the picketers. A man who most likely works in IT just asked me what is going on. Another distinguished older gentleman just wanted to shop H&M. I told him he could come back tomorrow.
6:43: Check-ins begin via iPad.
6:44: Sign-wielders are off to troll the rest of the mall, I'm guessing ? The ropes are at capacity.
6:49: The music is on! One security person is teaching another how much rope to open when he opens the rope in 13 minutes.
6:54: Every lady publicist working the event is basically wearing the same crazy black pump. People are wondering if cocktails will be served (duh!); someone else is talking about gay prostitutes; that woman's tuxedo pants are Narciso Rodriguez.
6:57: They're letting us in!
6:59: Okay, it's not going to be civilized.
7:05: The store is already out of shopping totes.
7:08: A couple of girls are hoarding huge piles on the floor. Real classy, ladies. If it was real Margiela I'd be scandalized. Also: The mirrored leggings are part of the line.
7:12: The racks are like two thirds empty already. Looks like the darted sweater and whatever the chunky white knit is are not proving super popular for ladies. For men, the most in tact seem to be the basic suiting (obviously, who wants that?). The painted jeans are, like, gone. People are ignoring the bar, which is shocking; As the whole set up is on rolling racks everything has shifted wildly and nothing is still at its 90 degree angle. Martin Margiela would not like this!
7:13: Jenny Shimizu is here.
7:14: So the tags and trim on this stuff look great but it is just way to big and unwieldy to be functional.
7:15: Pushing and shoving is really the only option.
7:17: The line to check out is already Black Friday crazy.
7:23: Some restocking is happening. People are pouncing on the candy bar clutches like they're gold bars. At least three women are buying it in multiples.
7:27: Okay, ladies—stop taking all the menswear.
7:33: Oh! There's more menswear and another bar upstairs!
7:40: There are definitely items that I feel like were not in the lookbook. And—of course, it's possible I missed it as people were swarming and grabbing monstrously—certain items from the lookbook didn't seem to be there at all.
7:41: Kara Laricks is here and she is looking pretty dashing in a big floppy hat. Love.
7:46: Considering how awful everyone is being the salespeople are being super-professional and friendly. A big cheers to them—with my third prosecco.
7:50: Just a note that the music is also totally on point—freestyle just morphed into the Dandy Warhols.
8:01: Wow, I got a fitting room! The painted jeans (or perhaps my waist) are not true-to-size.
8:06: Here begins my 26-minute span of cycling between levels and stalking strangers trying to find the painted jeans in a larger size. This does not work out—but I grab somemore wine along the way. Plus some H&M mainline basics which end up being 25% off in celebration.
8:14: Omigod, the aprons are embroidered with the whole Margiela numbers branding deal. I want one for the kitchen!
8:32: This is ridiculous. I need to be done. I decide to buy the jeans anyway. They sort of almost fit. Who cares?
8:44: In line to pay. My coat is shoved into my shopping tote with everything else and the sales clerk is like "we don't sell this." No kidding.
8:46: No need to reveal the full tally, it's ludicrous and embarrassing. I will note that the two biggest ticket items were not for me (a dress and a turtleneck for our Racked National editor—which is actually cashmere! You're welcome!). I scored the painted jeans in white (pretend they fit); the confetti tee (to match my real Margiela confetti woven shirt); the watch band with no watch bracelet; plus three regular basic items that all couldn't look less like Margiela. Each garment comes with its beautiful, embossed washed wood hanger. The shopping bags are also embossed and insanely large.
9:26: I am back in Brooklyn. A friend of mine is literally inside the shopping bag posing for Instagram photos. It's that big.
So that's basically that. I wish the jeans fit me. I wish that pieced blazer was available—that was one of the lookbook items that just didn't seem to be there at all. But it was a pretty fun night. Thanks H&M! And please make the next collaboration some label I don't care about so I can sit the whole thing out.
· Love, Frank [Racked]