Off Target

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This time, I told myself, I would love the clothes. I would buy something. I would believe the hype.

I swear I tried to get excited about the new Jean Paul Gaultier line at Target, I really did. The avant-garde fashion designer, perhaps best known for designing Madonna’s famed coned bra her early ’90s “Vogue”-era reign, just launched a highly anticipated line for the big-box store.

In theory, this means that anyone who’s fashion-conscious but pocketbook-poor can now afford a piece of haute couture.

Too bad Gaultier’s offerings aren’t quite ready-to-wear. The clothes, which debuted in stores this week, are garish, poorly made and more expensive than the high (by Target standards, anyway) price tags can justify.

There, I said it. Revoke my Obsessive Target Shopper Card now; haters to the left.

The materials are cheap, the colors loud and the ’80s-inspired styles beg for attention—in a bad, bad way. Take the $60 halter dress, which in its Screaming Yellow Zonkers shade of “Spanish mustard,” is gaudy, not cutting edge. Or check out the $24.99 tattoo print mesh leggings—grossly current in a drugged-out Lindsay Lohan sort of way.

Seriously, ew.

Or how about $199 for a brown “stained” leather jacket? Or $60 for the black strapless ’80s-style party dress made of 100 percent crinkly, rough-to-the-touch polyester? You could find a better vintage prom dress at Thrift Town or Bows and Arrows for a quarter of the price.

While there are a few pretty, stylish items—a garnet-red, draped Grecian-styled sundress; a chic trench coat; a French-inspired black-and-white flowered halter dress—the Gaultier line is largely tasteless, a boldly bad example of fugly over style and substance.

And that’s been the overarching problem with most of Target’s big-name fashion forays.

Past lines, created by the likes of Proenza Schouler, Luella Bartley and the late Alexander McQueen, have elicited big publicity and much salivating among the budget conscious, but the results have mostly been as regrettably attention-grabbing as that hot-pink terrycloth romper your grandma insists on wearing to Bingo night.

Last year’s Anna Sui line for example was, hypothetically at least, inspired by the TV show Gossip Girl, but I’m still trying to figure out what tacky floral prints and neon buffalo plaid have to do with the Upper East Side.

And still, all the fashion mags and bloggers rave. Well, mostly anyway. Tucked in amid gushing reviews from the likes of Elle and Glamour, some online commentators were less than impressed.

“Not much of this stuff is wearable. … It looks like they just threw a bunch of fabric together and figured people will buy it since it is from a famous designer,” wrote one FabSugar poster.

“Sloppy and cheap looking,” wrote another.


I love cheap fashion, but Forever 21 and H&M do it better, selling pieces that are stylish and, for the most part, crafted in wearable cuts and fabrics that will last more than a few months.

Maybe it’s just that Target is flipping the concept of haute couture to the extreme, expanding on the already-deplorable concept that people will pay buckets of money for “unique” items and then ditch them after only a few wearings.

Whether you’re paying $5,000 or $50, that’s an appalling, environmentally unfriendly, budget-stupid philosophy.