The Topshop Unique catwalk shows are always an intriguing affair. Not only because the retail giant broke new waves in becoming the first high-street retailer to show on schedule at London Fashion Week back in 2005, but because it has been a huge success, season after season, bringing in countless celebrities to its front row seats in its fabulous show spaces (previous years’ spaces have been hosted in Russel Square and the old Eurostar platform at Waterloo Station). This season, things were no different.
The spring/summer 2014 impressive Topshop Unique show space was situated within leafy Regent’s Park, a far cry from the bustle of the British Fashion Council’s base at Somerset House. It’s always a testament to Unique’s burgeoning success, how far the fashion set is willing to totter to see their shows. Two enormous tents made up the complex: one for pre-show champagne and canapés and the other for the catwalk, both linked by wooden walkway planks so as to avoid any stiletto-in-mud fashion disasters. The mood this season was relaxed with precision organisation, unlike previous seasons, which have been known to result in mile-long queues and rather enraged fashion buyers and journalists, turned away at the door due to oversubscription.
The front row this season was littered with the television, film and music stars of the moment including Ellie Goulding, Daisy Lowe, Pixie Geldof, Sadie Frost, and the beautiful indie sibling trio, Haim. Phillip Green took centre stage, sandwiched between none other than Kate Moss and Anna Wintour herself.
Even the catwalk was crawling with fame, with models du jour Jordan Dunn, Cara Delevigne, and Rosie Tapner walking this season. It was a wonder anyone noticed the clothes at all.
But notice they did. Emma Farrow and Kate Phelan showed a stellar collection, which could take us day by day through the entire summer. Entitled “Heat rave” and citing the “wild and heady days and endless freedom of summer” Topshop Unique’s SS14 collection is for the young and the carefree and most importantly, it’s a collection for everyone. Items were layered and casually thrown together – the ideal post-beach getup of shirt-dresses and loose hoodies. Every occasion was catered for, from a day in the office wearing light frayed Chanel-esque tweeds in air force blue, to chiffon patterned jumpsuits in the park and suede jackets for when the breeze hits. Denim played a large role in the collection, as did denim hues. Yellows and greens also stuck out as key shades.
The collection was an eclectic mix of items. Texture was important with patching and layering of contrasting fabrics, as well as possibly every other summer fabric imaginable: silks, cottons, open-knit jumpers, chambray and fringing. Inspiration for the collection was holiday photos from North Africa and Morocco, which could be seen through the rich tones, scattered mirrored embellishment, and geometric cracked-tile prints. There also seemed to be a strong 1990s influence, in the spaghetti-strapped dresses, low-slung jeans, and backpacks.
It might sound as though there was no synthesis in the collection, no clear vision and a mish-mash of ideas but it worked. It was casual summer dressing at its best. The piece de resistance was most certainly a bias-cut backless cobalt dress worn by Victoria’s Secret model, Jordan Dunn (backless is emerging as a big trend for spring/summer 2014).
Shoes were sensible – there were no heels on the catwalk – it was all about effortless cool (and, also, perhaps because stilettos on a grass runway would have been cause for disaster). Hair was dishevelled and make-up was morning-after sultry. The Topshop Unique SS14 girl is nonchalantly cool.