Fashionistas and paparazzi face catfights at dawn this week as supermodel Kate Moss's clothes collection hits the shelves of British retailer Topshop. The first foray into design by one of the world's most photographed women and the trigger for fashion trends from skinny jeans to sawn off shorts has gained blanket coverage in Britain since announced last September.
"We expected the publicity to be big, but not this big," Mary Homer, one of Topshop's managing directors told Reuters. Topshop has 2,000 umbrellas ready for queuing shoppers should it rain today when the range goes on sale at its flagship Oxford Circus store before opening nationwide on May 1.
During the next two weeks, the collection will launch in another 21 countries, including at upmarket US store Barney's The 50 piece range stretching from 12 pounds for a tight-fitting vest to a leather jacket for 150 pounds.
To try prevent fights among shoppers when the doors open, each person will be able to buy only five items. Moss, who cut a 3 million pound deal with Topshop, is the latest celebrity hired by a retailer to help win an increasingly competitive battle for fashion-savvy mid-market shoppers.
Madonna is now starring at H&M and will soon be followed at the Swedish chain by Kylie Minogue, while up and coming singer Lily Allen has struck a deal with Britain's New Look.
While H&M saw its March sales surge 17 per cent thanks to Madonna, Moss, whose every fashion move is followed by the British press, is expected to be a bigger hit because of her history of inspiring millions of women's wardrobe choices.
Tatty girl: The look she pulls together for herself -- skinny jeans and waistcoats, floral mini dresses and sawn off denim shorts -- continues to drive global fashion trends. "Kate Moss is a 'down-up' brand - this tatty girl who is completely unapproachable because of her beauty and wears totally approachable fashion," said Marian Salzman, trendspotter and executive vice president at advertising agency JWT.
Her latest incarnation caps a notable resurgence since Moss was ditched by a slew of luxury houses and nicknamed "Cocaine Kate" by British tabloids two years ago after front-page photos showed her snorting a white powder.
The fashion press see the deal - which is a long-term project, not a one-off range - as much as an opportunity for Moss to found a career beyond modelling as she gets older. Topshop is successful in Britain by selling its own brand clothes that are cheap enough for teenagers and fashionable enough that A-listers want to buy them as well, but Moss's extra cachet is expected to be vital in breaking the US market.
"With Madonna, H&M has been able to raise its game in the United States as a much hotter brand. Kate Moss could do the same thing for Topshop," said Bernstein Research's Luca Solca.
Rita Clifton, chairman of agency Interbrand, adds Topshop owner Philip Green, has made a smart move hiring a star who appears impervious to scandal to spearhead his quest to make the 700 million pound business into a global brand.