“Everyone has had a Topshop experience in their life, it’s where you go. It’s your playground,” said Topshop Unique’s creative director Kate Phelan backstage after one of the biggest events on the London schedule: spectators, street style photographers and curious tourists crowded the streets in Westminster awaiting the spectacle, and the event generates innumerable hashtags and Instagrams.
Rather than deliver fashion, Topshop Unique is a neat distillation of how the retail giant will represent the big trends for the forthcoming season: leather, fluff, meadow prints and polka dots. For SS16, Phelan drew from quintessential British culture. Her muse — an English garden party goer in a Wedgwood-print who throws on a sweater when the evening chill sets in. “She’s raided her mother’s closet for random heirloom pieces: marabou furs, gemstone chandelier earrings and cable-knit cardigans.” Said Phelan: “It’s less about good taste. There was no real formula about how things should be worn together. It’s that Topshop thing, about finding your own style within the collection.”
Cue a mismatch of textiles and trends: nude leather trousers with sheer pleated blouses, with a leopard print fur thrown over; floral georgette shorts worn with a structured, mannish tuxedo. Classic British pieces came in the form of cricket jumpers and nylon trenchcoats, cinched at the waist with a narrow leather belt — a styling trick present at almost every show so far.
In fact showgoers were able to leave their seats at the venue and buy something there and then from a pop up store (also open to the public). Anyone watching the live stream on Topshop.comanywhere in the world could click and buy immediately. For a retailer with the logistic and manufacturing capability it is a sage move – and one that taps further into satiating the want-it-now culture sprung from fashion show imagery proliferating the online and social media world.
The season-neutral collection (designed to appeal to shoppers in Australia as well as Europe) – called simply ‘September 2016’ – was an homage to the 1980’s spirit of London, with inspiration taken from from provocative punk artist Linder Sterling and London’s eclectic fashion markets. “We’re thinking about all those amazing markets like Hyper Hyper, the Great Gear market, Kensington and Camden where you bought everything from army surplus to Swanky Modes party dresses – everything was a one off and original,” explains Creative Director Kate Phelan. “Camden was a melting pot of punks, goths, New Romantics and Buffalo boys.”
There were striking bias cut zebra print embroidered dresses, bat-wing sleeves, slashed-up sweaters, as well as sexier bandage style dresses and sheer black lace rose-and-female-form patterned lace – worn with big finely curled hair and giant safety pin earrings. The show had a nostalgic but forward thinking feeling of youth culture. They won’t have to wait long to see if it resonates with today’s fickle millennials.
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Written by Domain Esdale, Lead Editor