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Kate Moss wannabes mob London store

Story Highlights

• Shoppers lined up for a chance to buy Kate Moss' clothing line
• They were limited to purchasing five items each
• Topshop reportedly paid the model $6 million for the designs
By Alphonso Van Marsh
CNN
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Editor's note: In our Behind the Scenes series, CNN correspondents share their experiences in covering news and analyze the stories behind the events. Here, correspondent Alphonso Van Marsh recaps the frenzy over the new Kate Moss Collection.

LONDON, England (CNN) -- There were elbows flying and black plastic hangers swinging perilously around metal racks.

Shorter teenagers ducked around their shopping elders -- all hellbent on getting a piece of clothing designed by supermodel Kate Moss.

Indeed, little could have prepared me for the madness Monday night when fashion-crazed shoppers descended on London-based clothing retailer Topshop for a chance at the supermodel's new clothing line.

Topshop reportedly paid the catwalk queen some $6 million to design the sequined tops, skinny jeans and flower-print dresses for the masses. (Watch shoppers go crazy for Kate Moss clothes Video)

Moss says many of the items in the collection were inspired by clothes in her own closet.

And so the masses were happy to wait hours in line outside Topshop's Oxford Street store for the chance to attend a special shopping session of Moss's inspirations.

It all had an orderly start.

Attendants, wearing Moss logo T-shirts, handed out color-coded armbands to hundreds of the faithful in a line that looped around the store's corner.

The armbands allowed shoppers 20 minutes at Topshop's basement level showcase -- the home of the Moss Collection, soon available in 20 countries.

The first batch of shoppers proceeded with a jittery calm down the escalators, but the largely female crowd picked up their steps as soon as they hopped off.

And once their post-work, comfort-heeled shoes hit the Kate Moss Collection leopard print carpet, the madness ensued.

I heard more than one shopper grunt over not finding their size -- grunts that could be heard over the Muzak being piped through the store's speaker system.

Admittedly, it wasn't the mayhem that plagued another London retail store launch last month that had people literally tripping over each other.

Topshop set ground rules -- including a five-item purchase limit -- to not only help keep the peace, but also to discourage enterprising shoppers from reselling items at a mark-up online.

But as I stood in the middle of all this -- bumped aside by numerous determined shoppers -- I saw a fascinating insight into how the 33-year-old Moss, an aging model and mother of one, can still influence consumer choice.

"We waited four hours but it was worth it," shopper Alice Patron said.

Showing off her Kate Moss Collection golden vest, black hot pants and a white top, she readily admits she's bought into the hype: "Everything [Moss] wears is amazing. So we think if we wear what she wears, we'll look amazing too. People buy into that, and it works."

And talk about reporter involvement. We wanted to interview one shopper about why she'd added Moss to her collection -- until this "shopper" disclosed she was a presenter for a national British television program.

I saw a London radio reporter pull a microphone out of her purse -- after she put her credit card and receipt for Kate Moss items in it. She then proceeded to interview the shopper standing in line behind her at the checkout counter.

Before the shopping storm, Topshop big boss Philip Green maintained the calm, shooing reporters away so he could personally escort Moss to see her collection on the store racks for the first time.

Moss wore one of her own creations, a full-length red chiffon dress retailing for £195, or just under $400.

The man who wrote the multimillion-dollar check to Moss is, by most accounts, one of the wealthiest men in Britain. He can afford to stick by his supermodel friend as she rebuilds a career temporarily hurt by allegations of cocaine use. Moss never admitted it happened, but she did apologize for her behavior, and checked into rehab.

I asked Green if his new business association with Moss was a calculated risk that could hurt his brand.

The shrewd businessman was nonplused: "What's your definition of risk? We haven't just thought up an idea. We don't expect to make any money this week, next week or next month," he said. "This is about a brand build of something we believe we can develop."

Green says he'll do this all over again in New York next week, when he launches the Kate Moss Collection at Barney's. While even London's revered fashion guru Hilary Alexander is giving the collection positive reviews, New York isn't being so kind.

A New York magazine blogger says the collection is a snore. The New York Post cried "Dupli-Kate" -- because Moss says some of the designs are from clothing she already owns.

"I'm not worried," Green said.

Based on the hundreds of ladies who turned shopping into an athletic event Monday night, he's probably right. Celebrity sells threads.


story.moss.gi.jpg

Supermodel Kate Moss appeared at Topshop wearing one of her creations.

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