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“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.

This season’s Unique girl has left behind 1970s Bohemia for a more nostalgic 1930s Bloomsbury look. But this being Topshop, she can mix it up any which way she wants.

For more reports from the shows, go to our fashion weeks page on the FT web app, or visit our London Collections Women SS16 fashion weeks hub on FT.com

Photographs: Catwalking.com

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