Me and my sister, Kathleen, woke up at 6:45 Saturday morning to book it over to the H+M at the Culver City Mall and wait in like for two or three hours to get some cheap Lanvin. My plan was to secure a pair of those awesome, square-round sunglasses without getting in a slapfight with another lady, and to just grab as many items in the smallest size they have and see what works. Getting up at the crack of dawn to go stand in a line somewhere filled me with great nostalgia for my youth, camping out overnight for Siouxsie tickets or getting to an abortion clinic at sunrise to fight with Christians. I was excited! Kathleen has a magical and well-dressed toddler, so she hasn’t really slept in two years and at this stage is punchy and up for anything! We zoomed over to Culver City, ready to take our place in line and become besties with all the maniacs who’d camped out all night.
When we got to H+M we were alarmed to see no line. And, the store was open! At 8:30! We were told by bored out of their minds security guards that the store opened early, and if we wanted to shop the Lanvin section we had to go and get wristbands, and we would be given a time to report back to the store and allowed into the Lanvin racks for fifteen minutes, then we would be kicked out by security and another herd of women would be prodded in.
We got our wristbands and were told to come back in three hours. Would anything even be there in three hours, I wailed to the H+M workers. They shrugged grimly. They had already hardened their hearts to the suffering of the latecomers.
I had wanted to score interviews with extreme fashion fanatics who’d camped out all night for Lanvin. Outside the store I met this gentleman, who seemed to be living some sort of intense lifestyle. Apparently he’d slid in the rain – oh yeah, it was raining, and like many malls in southern California, this one is outdoors! – and tumbled headlong into the front of the store, sustaining some injuries. He was hanging out smoking illegal cigarettes and waiting for the paramedics. He tried to give me his email address, which included the words marijanashop or something. ‘But we don’t sell marijuana,’ he clarified. He was with a pretty young lady wearing a cool pair of boots:
Eager to make a new friend, I said, ‘Hello, I’m writing about this for a fashion blog, may I interview you?’ She glared at me coldly. ‘I write for fashion blogs,’ she informed me. ‘Cool, what’s your blog?” I chirped. She rattled off a list of blogs I never heard of, which means nothing, there are a million fashion blogs out there, man, I haven’t heard of most of them, but I’m just saying. Meanwhile, her man friend keeps tugging down the edge of his sweats to show me his bruised hipbone. It was starting to feel little 16th and Mission at the Culver City H+M when suddenly a gaggle of happy shoppers burst from the doors.
These ladies were first in line! Congratulations to them, they should be proud! They got their butts to the mall at 4am! They were not fucking around, and their dedication paid off – they got everything they wanted.
Next came this lady, also loaded down with bags, but she immediately started unpacking her goods and offering to sell them! Right outside the store! She confirmed that the sunglasses and jewelry were all already gone.
Fashion Blogger is interested in purchasing this bit of black market jewelry. I’d seen this necklace online and wasn’t at all interested in it, but seeing it in person – it was special. It was a lot more substantial than it looks, and I think the magic of the transparent plastic flowers doesn’t come across in pictures. It was beautiful! ‘How much?’ Fashion Blogger asked. ‘$100’, said the Black Market Businesswoman. She paused. ‘I’d need cash. I don’t know you.’ ‘Oh, well, I just lost my ATM card!’ Fashion Blogger began, ‘But I can give you a check and write all my information on it.’ Black Market Businesswoman looked uncomfortable. She turned to my sister. Kathleen has a very trustworthy vibe. Kathleen shook her head in a ‘don’t-ask-me-I’m-not-part-of-this-crazy-scene’ manner and then walked away because there was so much illegal cigarette smoking going on.
We left them to work out the details of their transaction. But I was haunted all day – did the Businesswoman accept a check from the Blogger? I hope not! Dear Readers, never accept a check from a stranger who just lost their ATM card and is smoking cigarettes in a designated No Smoking area!
With three hours to kill, Kathleen and I set out around the mall. We run into this dapper gent, a former men’s buyer at Fred Segal who now works at Bloomie’s. “Collabs like this help keep the industry afloat,” he said optimistically. Me and Kathleen both love that he said collabs and vow to use it whenever possible. He got a couple shirts. “I was pleasantly surprised when I got the product in my hand. It’s better than I expected.”
Kathleen and I park it at a patisserie and read the H+M catalog. We discuss models. Kathleen loved Christy Tulington so much in the 90s. ‘She was everything that’s soft and beautiful and muted and refined,’ she sighed. Let’s take a look:
Pretty! My ex-girlfriend went to high school with Christy Turlington, who apparently shuffled around in a giant old army jacket saying, ‘I’m going to be a model’, and everyone was like – yeah, right. Way to manifest your destiny, Christy.
Ladies start piling into the cafe, loaded down with Lanvin for H+M bags. Lots of them look L.A. fashion, with straightened hair and stiletto leather boots climbing up their thighs, but some look surprisingly like soccer moms. A soccer mom needs a nice party frock for the holidays just like anyone, but these bitches had to be in like by 5am to have gotten in there, and frankly, they just don’t look the type. ‘Some people just don’t have anything to do,’ Kathleen said philosophically.
These nice ladies let me bother them while they were ordering their croissants. They were in line at 4:50 that morning. That means they had to be doing their makeup at like, 3am! Well done, ladies! You never know when someone is going to take your picture for the internet. How was it in there? ‘Very organized,’, said the woman on the left, a fashion blogger from Turkey. ‘Especially compared to Jimmy Choo and Matthew Williamson.’ Those were some of H+M’s past collabs.What did you get? ‘I got the yellow dress, the orange dress with the jewel neck, the bracelet, all the t-shirts . . . I wish they’d made the flats,’ she said dreamily. Me too, though you can get Lanvin knock-off bejeweled flats at like Payless at this point. These ladies are satisfied with the quality of their loot, especially compared to other collabs. ‘Jimmy Choo was so poorly made, I returned a shoe I really liked because they hurt my feet and the zipper stuck.’
Um, not to be a creep, but can I ask you how much did you spend? ‘A thousand dollars.’ ‘I spent $500,’ said her friend. The thoughts I had then were echoed in the daily fashion alerts I get emailed to me from New York Magazine’s The Cut: ‘Shoppers Spent as Much on H+M Lanvin As They Might Have on Real Lanvin’ By the way, if you care about this shit at all, and by this shit I mean fashion, sign up for the fashion alerts. They are hilarious.
Kathleen and I made our way back to H+M to see what was going down. As it turned out the paramedics had arrived.
Kathleen would like to point out that the entire mall is dotted with these:
Really, though. Anyway, look at these cute and gleeful shoppers!
That one girl is rocking one of those rubber chicken purses, and it works! Who knew? Don’t try it at home, dear readers. I think she is a professional.
Eventually it is 11:45 and I’m allowed inside H+M. Kathleen doesn’t even bother. She heads off to J. Crew to find a delightful pair of salmon ballet flats with a grosgrain bow, totally on sale. I make my way to the Lanvin section, and here is what I’ve got to work with:
That’s it. And nothing is in my size. At the suggestion of a helpful H+M employee I get in the dressing room line, hoping to glean scraps from disinterested shoppers. But there really is hardly anything left for anyone, so I grab a couple dresses and a skirt, all of them at least two sizes too big for me, and head into a dressing room.
Nothing fits. At one point I hear a girl outside my door talking about having a size two and I fling myself out from my dressing room. ‘You have a size two? Do you want it, can I have it?’ She comes over cautiously. ‘I would trade you,’ she said, ‘For a four.’ All I have are fours! I swing my dressing room door wide so she can shop. ‘I already have those,’ she said. ‘I’m going to keep my two.’ She walks away. I spend ten minutes in my dressing room taking art pictures of myself wrapped in the red tulle of that one dress.