It's uncertain whether it's a mark of Topshop's prestige - or London's continuing position at the bottom-of-the-heap when it comes to fashion week professionalism - but the slickest show of the week to date was that from the Topshop Unique label, inaugurating the newest space to play host to the star-studded roster of designers showing under their august patronage. Then again, considering the vast budget available to the Topshop Unique team - not least those affording them the skills of super stylist Katie Grand - it should be a tight, neat show, worthy of any major international fashion house.
Luckily, Topshop has no delusions of grandeur, and even its fashion-forward off-shoot Unique understands its place on the high street. A British high-street institution, Topshop is happy to follow the lead of others rather than forging ahead into brave new territory, and hence employing the skills of a taste-maker such as Grand has paid dividends. For S/S 2011, Topshop latched on to a hippy, drippy seventies flower-child vibe worthy of any Woodstock devotee. Grand's major gigs include Louis Vuitton, and there was a discernible hint (and a bit) of Marc Jacobs' hit New York show in the burnt-out, pressed-flower shades of dulled cerise, burgundy and ochre splashed across dreamy layers of chiffon. Print was the biggest story, with blurred foliage and smoke coiling its way across maxi dresses and super wide-legged palazzo pants. Fluidity was evidently a major theme, hems dipping in back and shoulders dropping into capes fluttering in the wind, the motion underlined by layers of fringing dripping from neat leather satchels and shredded, bleached-out denims. Those will evidently be the key selling pieces - how successfully some of those slipstream chiffons would translate to the great British high street remains to be seen, but as an emphatic catwalk statement they were spot on.
And, ironically, that's really what this show is all about, despite coming from one of Britain's (or even the world's) top high-street chains. This show boasted the likes of Jourdan Dunn, Dree Hemingway and Lindsey Wixson, and the vast majority of these garments will never even hit editorial shoots, let alone the shop floor. But imagine it disseminated, into a hundred tie-dye maxi-skirts, a thousand denim jackets, a million bleached-out vests. Essentially, this is what the high-street will look like this time next year. We'll all be heartily sick of it by then, but today it was just fresh enough to catch our attention.