Perhaps because it was Kate Phelan's last collection for the retail giant after a six-year stint as creative director, but Topshop's see-now, buy-now fall 2017 show, held Sunday in London, felt like an especially energetic occasion.
“This season, we’re looking back to the heady, crazy days of Soho,” Phelan told Refinery29 of the collection, which was a super-charged look back at a time before Instagram, when things were less polished and people reveled in individualism. “You had clubs like Madame Jojo’s and Revue Bar, Mud Club and Dirtbox, and on Charing Cross Road, Saint Martin’s School of Art. There was a real creative culture bubbling under the surface then: They were the decadent days of Soho, with the glamorous neon lights above and the seedy underworld below.”
But this show was as much a celebration of the past as it was a signifier of the future. With a changing of the guard on the creative side, Topshop is also reflecting on its current business model and putting new practices into place. According to Business of Fashion, the Topshop Unique runway offering, which typically featured higher-end (read: more expensive) pieces, was renamed Topshop London Fashion Week. The choice was to create an "extension of [Topshop's] mainline fashion offering," and with that, "price points have been revised to offer a more democratic price structure allowing our global customers to buy into aspirational product at an accessible price point."
According to its site, where $1,000+ clothes once sat, the new collection runs from $65 to $650, and includes pastel-colored babydoll dresses, crystal-embellished chiffon blouses, gala gowns, sporty satin shorts, atomic silver trousers, shrunken mohair vests, and brushed red metallic leather mini skirts. Boudoir influences pervaded with sheer blouses and plumes of feathers that fluttered off party girl capes, while diamanté buckle-belts hung across midriffs. Where previous Topshop collections have erred on the side of incredibly wearable, many of these pieces weren't for the retiring wallflower. Either way, via both the diverse casting and the clothes themselves, this show championed idiosyncrasies and the freedom to wear what you want, when you want.
Though many of Topshop's most popular items tend to go viral (and sell out quickly), this show was about avoiding uniformity and instead mixing and matching items to suit your personality and preferences. “This girl is playful; it was a pre-digital time when individuality was king and everyone wanted to be their own person,” Phelan affirmed. “We weren’t fashion followers then, we wore clothes that we found and made ourselves.”