There’s a slight irony to a gigantic, swollen corporate like Topshop doing a show dedicated to 'the grit and the gleam of Soho' given that the neighbourhood is being flattened and cleaned up by gentrification and corporatisation. Goodbye queer clubs and niche hangouts, hello chains. But Topshop pressed on with the references to the cult and the underground, name-checking Madame Jojo’s (shuttered, but potentially re-opening), Corinne Day and 'the quintessential, creative underground.' But good on Topshop for at least being honest about how they mine subculture and the brave thinkers at the forefront of the avant-garde to borrow ideas. Topshop follow while others lead, they tap into the innovations of other designers and respond with great product that young women will like. This season they were pushing for the party girl market - think evening dresses that could have moonlighted as showgirl Halloween costumes.
The meat and potatoes of this collection was decidedly retro - shiny eighties metallic trousers, baby-dolls, marabou details. 'Perhaps pulled from a vintage market?' offered the show notes. Well, no, they’re from Topshop. But that’s the point - the effort required of going on a quest to a second hand store or saving up for a great one-off is not required when you can just trot along to the brand’s Oxford Street palace of product and get something nearly as good as the real thing for £40. Topshop dominate the youth market, so it was interesting to note that they’ve abandoned the gender-fluid, androgynous silhouettes that dominated the fashion conversation for so long. Perhaps in a response to the fluff and frolics on the runways at brands like Gucci and Miu Miu, Topshop had gone hyper girly, promoting a 'dolly bird' look made up of sparkles and pastels. The finale offered a touch of reality - each model emerged in denims and a t-shirt customised with her name. Great fodder for Instagram.
One particularly cringe-inducing line in the press release noted 'She’s a style star with street spirit.' Ouch. But the point is, with Topshop, it’s all about the girl. These clothes aren’t made for the runway, but for fashion-hungry young women who’ll take them and twist them in their own way. These are propositions for wardrobes - a dressing up box for the young and excited. That made me smile.