“The highs and lows of British style.” Geoffrey Finch, Topshop Unique’s creative design, said backstage at the fall 2016 show in February. It was a celebration of Britishness if anything. The front row was the first reminder: a bevy of celebrities, largely populated by British It girls, interspersed with international guest made welcome in the country with Topshop partnership—e.g. Karlie Kloss, Lucky Blue Smith. There was also the Shakespearean motifs that underscored the collection. The world celebrated 400 years of the great bard’s death this year. Mary Katrantzou, Mulberry and Valentino have all acknowledge the playwright in collections this year. A Winter’s Tale was loosely interpreted in a few looks in this collection; slinky dresses with prints resembling the play.
In this celebration of Britishness, nightlife was spotlighted. High-waisted leather skirts, houndstooth minis, floaty winter dresses, and a handful of demure evening wear was presented. American model Taylor Hill closed the show wearing a black dress in smooth velvet with a chiffon inset and lace collar. Before that, Adrienne Jüglier donned a faux-fur coat. What was underneath? Only she knows. It wasn’t just dresses and skirts with skimpy tops; there were trouser options also. Calf-length trousers were paired nonchalantly with a black shirt and a houndstooth print coat. A black biker jacket with a fur collar was styled with khaki wide-leg trousers.
The hair and makeup teams stressed the importance of the individual, as did Kate Phelan backstage. Each model had a personalised hairdo, a pleasant contrast to the uniformity at other shows. ‘Last night’s hair and makeup’ was the gritty counterpoint to the glossiness in the collection. There aren’t many with makeup artists and hairstylists on payroll. I felt this aspect to the collection was the strongest—the narrative they pursued was closely tied to reality, something that Topshop is required to achieve.
The average Topshop customer doesn’t buy Unique. They mainly shop jeans, tees, dresses and everything in between. Unique is the higher end division that is only found in select stores. What distinguished this collection from the others was the accessibility that the Unique design team failed to reach previously. Blazers, coats, dresses, skirts and trousers—a wide selection. They truly celebrated individuality and offered something for everyone. A dress with A Winter’s Tale reference; I’m sure many would love to wear their cultural identity.
It’s a weird time for them to celebrating Britishness. Reflecting on the show is an odd one; especially after the European Union membership referendum result crushed half the British population two weeks ago. Theresa May and Andrea Leadsom are competing for Tory leadership. The pound has plummeted; creative industries, a key contributor to the British economy, which encompasses the fashion industry, is at risk. This has a knock on effect for the rest of the world too. Topshop has the responsibility to carry on, and continue to be one of the fashion industry’s most successful companies.
Photo Credit: voguerunway.com