Perhaps the most striking aspect of the Met Gala on Monday evening was the way the high street made such an impact. A few years ago, high street attempts to compete on the red carpet weren’t that great. On Monday though both H&M and Topshop were up there with the best and who’d have known the dresses were ‘high street’ unless we’d been told?
OK, it helps when they’re worn by mega-celebs and supermodels, and nobody is trying to claim that these are the same dresses we can pluck off the rail for £69.99.
But it goes to prove a point I’ve made before (I’m a bit of a bore on the subject actually): designers working for the high street are every bit as talented as those at the high-end. In fact, their challenges are greater because they’re more constrained by price and have less chance to experiment with new ideas.
When high street labels put huge effort into events like the Met Gala, they’re using their red carpet output as a way to create buzz around their brands so we’ll want to buy those £69.99 dresses, in much the same way as luxury labels have used lossmaking couture operations to sell £50 perfumes and £200 sunglasses for decades.
Will we actually see stores like Topshop and H&M selling ultra-expensive clothes? You never know. We’ve already seen Topshop selling a £1k dress as part of its resort collection and H&M’s recent Balmain collab saw key items at prices not that far off the high-end line.
It’s perhaps no surprise that it’s happening. We’re living through an era when the lot sof rule books are being torn up. The seasonal one, the one that says men’s and women’s lines are very different, that one that draws a clear dividing line between couture and luxury ready-to-wear. Whoever said fashion was boring?