Valentine's Day can be a great excuse to indulge in sweets, booze and over-priced flowers, but for a mob of screaming teenage Angelenos yesterday, the afternoon was spent indulging in another form of gluttony: shopping during the opening of Topshop at the Grove. Touted as the “Topshop Topman Takeover,” the grand opening of the London-based retail chain's first West Coast store opening was kind of a big deal. And we're just talking about the spectacle that took place outside the store before the doors were ever opened at 4 p.m.
First, there was the free concert by pop star and Topshop brand ambassador Demi Lovato. Then came the entourage of British town cars waving Union Jack flags. And finally, there was the fashion show after all the models emerged from the town cars wearing Topshop block party gear and started dancing to The Clash's “London Calling,” The Sex Pistols' “Anarchy in the U.K.” and David Bowie's “Fashion.”
The whole thing was a teenage Anglophile's fantasy, but set in sunny, 70-degree Los Angeles, where it's perfectly OK to prance around in tube tops and army jackets in the middle of February. Especially if you're a Topshop fan. While the Sex Pistols blasted over the speakers of the outdoor stage, their sinister lyrics sounded especially ironic: “Your future dream is a shopping scheme / Cause I wanna be anarchy / It's in the city.”
Anarchy was in the Grove. It came in the form of studded jean jackets, blue suede stilettos, and our personal favorite Topman ensemble, leather overalls. Yes, Topshop is attempting to popularize overalls again, and this time they don't just come in denim. You can buy them in velvet, corduroy and leather, with funky patterns, flared skirts and lots of zippers. (Topman calls them playsuits, or rompers.)
The event was treated like an exclusive red-carpet fashion party with free tote bags and t-shirts. Lines formed throughout the entirety of the Grove as fans waited just to step foot in the two-story, 25,000-square-foot flagship store and take a look around. Shoppers who waited hours and endured a bit of pushing in order to make it through the doors were rewarded with free make-up and hair consultations, personal shopping services and a photo booth, while DJs kept crowds happy both inside and outside the store.
With funky bright colors and prints that nostalgically reference the 80s and 90s, Topshop's clothing and shoes for men and women and quirky accessories — bow ties, suspender stockings and cat-ear headbands — are distinct enough for you to forget that they're mass-produced and affordable enough for you to actually shop there.
But if there's one thing we still don't quite understand about the British retailer, even after witnessing the madness of their Grove takeover, it's that all their prices are listed first in Euros, and then in American dollars, so you always feel as if you're overpaying. For example, a pair of sunglasses is listed as 18 euros, but 24 dollars, which somehow feels like a cheeky put-down to our humble currency.
Of course, that didn't stop hundreds of people from mobbing the Grove yesterday, and perhaps the foreign novelty of the British retailer is all part of its widespread appeal, in a way that's counterintuitive to L.A.'s locally-made fashion movement. But hey, where else can you find a rose-colored corduroy overall dress? At the new Topshop, it'll set you back 62 euros — or here in America, just 84 bucks.