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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.