To start the Topshop Unique autumn/winter 2015 show at London fashion week on Sunday afternoon, the high street brand chose a faux fur parka. Worn over bare legs, with wild hair, a short skirt, stocky heels and a white polo neck, it had all the hallmarks of how young women on British streets dress in 2015: the day-to-night edge of glamour, the retro references and the shrug-on tomboy cool of the parka.
Described as “a style journey from the playful wilds of the English countryside to the extravagance of a gilded cocktail hour,” the collection was the latest interpretation of this season’s muse, the party girl. If the high energy gloss of the 70s and 80s was referenced, the clothes were more modern.
Sitting on the front row were party girls in the public eye: Cara Delevingne, Kendall Jenner, Jourdan Dunn and Alexa Chung. All could feasibly be seen in these catwalk looks – from the ingenue short woollen dresses and velvet red sandals made for Chung, to the baby blue cord flares destined for Dunn. Sequinned short velvet dresses, knee high boots, marabou tops and sandals lined with faux fur added to the sense of fun.
While some of the mood was derivative of recent Louis Vuitton and Saint Laurent collections, where the 70s have been in focus, the added rustic touches in Aran sweaters, wild flower printed tea dresses and PVC macs were all new spins on fashion’s current retro moment. As is apt for a major retailer, these pieces looked just the type to fly out of the store.
Catwalk moment aside, this is ultimately what Topshop are about – selling clothes. They know that their twentysomething demographic largely engages with fashion online and they adapt their strategy accordingly to make consumers part of the fashion week conversation.
The tweets of the front row watching the shows have been streamed onto six advertising hoardings nationwide throughout this fashion week, complete with trend hashtags of flares, say, or PVC. Consumers are then invited to tweet images of the hoardings to receive a customised shopping basket of relevant clothes available to buy then and there on the Topshop site.
Mixing next-season-now catwalk kudos with social media buzz and cold hard commerce is a clever idea and one that works for Topshop, now the only high street brand on the London fashion week schedule.
Sunday is a day of presentations – where brands present their designs in a static setting rather than a catwalk show. Highlights included shoe designer Sophia Webster’s industrial space filled with models dressed in poppy space age outfits, and Mulberry’s first collection since the announcement of new creative director Johnny Coca, previously at Céline.
While Coca doesn’t officially start until July, the design team were influenced by the creative minimalism of their incoming boss. Textured shearling coats and fun boxy bags looked strong. London fashion week continues on Monday with the most influential brands – Christopher Kane, Burberry and Erdem – showing.