Haute Couture for the Masses, or Not

I belong to the large group of Roland Mouret worshippers spawned by his perfectly of-the-moment Galaxy dress (perhaps best described as "the fashion equivalent of the 'Rachael haircut'"). Along with the rest, I scoured eBay. I was over the moon when a peacock blue original turned up at Jeremy's... if only it hadn't been two sizes to small. I almost bought it anyway. That very piece, tell-tale small tear and all, turned up on eBay the next day.I may never have my own Galaxy dress (especially since Mouret left his eponymous label), but these days many high-fashion designers are trying to bring great design to the masses (think of Isaac, Michael Graves, and now Proenza Shouler at Target). I was intrigued by the idea of Roland Mouret's collaboration with the Gap (Product) RED (TM) line to create five dresses to raise funds to fight AIDS in Africa. The sidebar article in some one fashion magazine or another mentioned only that the dresses would be in stores on December 1st. From the photo, they looked genuinely cute, and for $88-$108?! I made it over to the Stanford Shopping Center's Gap store today. The first sales person I asked had no idea what I was talking about but hadn't seen any dresses in the store at all. Another knew about RED but not Mouret and had no info on when or whether they would be getting anything from the line.Further research online turned up Gap's press release on the topic. What fascinates me in this release is how Mouret's perfectly understandable mass-market justification ("I was interested in the opportunity to make my designs available to a broader audience") was delivered immediately on the heals of this statement: "Beginning on December 1, an exclusive collection of five dresses designed by Roland Mouret, will be sold in seven select Gap stores in New York City: 54th Street & 5th Avenue, 59th Street & Lexington, 42nd Street & Broadway, 34th Street & Broadway, 18th Street & 5th Avenue, 42nd Street & 3rd Avenue and Astor Place." Note that all seven stores are on the island of Manhattan. And this from a company based in San Francisco. If you believe the hype on eBay, where there are already 46 listings with nearly all priced above retail, the entire collection is already sold out in stores. It's too bad that, as with the knockoffs of the thousand-plus dollar originals (here's a funny story about one and a piece by Mouret that touches on knockoffs), so much of the profit from Mouret's designs will be going to opportunistic individuals. I can't really blame them, but I have to wonder why Gap would choose to keep the production so low and, with all the buzz, limit distribution to New York City. So much for reaching the masses.