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Celeb style does not equal top design

It does not appear that the imminent arrival of Kate Moss's collection for Topshop is filling the Americans with as much excitement as it is us Brits. Moss's line is set to be sold in upscale US department store Barneys and will serve as a test project for Sir Philip Green to see how the Topshop offer might go down Stateside.

The US fashion press has been less than effusive in its appraisal of the range, which is basically a reconstruction of key items from Moss's wardrobe in recent years. The line was dismissed by one journalist as "DupliKate" and the supermodel was criticised for not having come up with any original ideas. At least Madonna's collection for H&M had its own point of view, it was argued.

It's fair comment of course, but in Moss's defence she was quite open about her modus operandi, which involved taking her favourite clothes to the Topshop design team for reinterpretation. Given that Moss is one of the most photographed women in the world, you can picture the very outfits that have inspired many of the pieces in the collection. And, to be fair to her, Moss's style is one of the most ripped off on the high street and elsewhere, so she may as well rip herself off and profit from the proceeds.

This backlash against "celebrity" designers was bound to happen and, while the bitching is sometimes very amusing - if not entirely constructive - it does help to throw the spotlight onto the real designers, which is just what we've done in our Destiny in Design feature on page 26 this week.

It's clear from this article that the process of becoming a fashion designer for a high street chain or well-known brand is a long, hard and very competitive one. Getting a place on a college course is difficult enough for a start, with wannabe McCartneys and McQueens queuing around the block to get in.

Once you've secured your place, you have to master a string of skills, both creative and technical, and then you have to get the job. This often involves lengthy periods of unpaid work experience. Even once you've landed your dream role you need to keep your skills up to date, because manufacturing and design techniques change.

It must be some relief to these individuals that the press and the public is beginning to realise that there is more to being a fashion designer than simply having a certain level of celebrity and being able to pull an outfit together (with or without the help of a stylist).

But I sense the celebrity bandwagon will continue to roll on. Just last week it was revealed that the actress Penelope Cruz and her sister will be designing a line for Mango, and H&M has revealed that Madonna's M line had made a great contribution to its recent set of positive financial results.

While they may not always bring design talent, celebrities do seem to bring in the cash, so it looks like we'll have to get used to their presence on the high street for a while yet. And, for what it's worth, I have a feeling the Americans are going to lap up Kate Moss's clothes.

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