Mild November weather. Streaks of blue here and there. Nice Saturday morning to stroll the French Quarter, before the clouds roll in. Or so you thought. Until …
What’s this? The PEOPLE. The line strings along Decatur, from the corner of Bienville to Cafe du Monde, and you discover they’re awaiting the noon Saturday opening of H&M. Which may sound like an appropriately monickered nightspot for this part of the city, but which, as all of those in line know, is the hip and cheap Swedish retailer whose newest franchise occupies 32,000 square feet between the Hard Rock Cafe and Urban Outfitter.
At straight up 12, the first 650 shoppers (store capacity, someone in the crowd whispers knowledgeably) are allowed to dance between the guards at the front door, music blaring, hands raised, triumphant. A friend spotted in line says she arrived at 11 a.m. and is …. still back by Jax Brewery. “All those people ahead of me must have slept here.” (They did. A take-out Mimosa from Muriel’s is making things manageable. This is, after all, New Orleans.)
But really. This is too, too much. Is it worth the wait? Too bad I will not be among the red-carpet, special-door crowd, who evidently will get to munch red candies and sit at white patio tables nestled in the adjoining parking lot behind a partition covered in ivy that spells H&M. (I peeked.)
Then the rains come, dampening my sidewalk ambivalence. Around me, bumbershoots blossom and the party atmosphere accelerates. Nothing, it seems, can dim the enthusiasm of fashionistas in search of a bargain. (One of whom, I might add, sports silver curls and is inching forward in line using a walker.)
I pause to windowshop and wonder and Google a bit. My friend Karen Taylor Gist, editor of the TP’s Wish, is of course on top of things. The first H&M store to open in Louisiana, she writes, will be the last to feature French boho chic designer Isabel Marant, whose collection has had “fashion circles on both sides of the ocean buzzing for months.”
Hmmm. Looks alluring. But I’m not sure boho chic is really my style. I dip into Urban Outfitter next door and buy a jacket on sale. There’s a long line at the cash register. Spillover, I suppose.
A recession? Really?