Not everyone will embrace the bejewelled baggies and sequinned, oversized hooded tops that Topshop Unique showed as part of its autumn/winter collection yesterday. However, given that these will be the most affordable clothes shown at London Fashion Week, which began on Friday, they provide a reliable glimpse into what many people will be wearing come September.
Last season’s collection by Unique, which is Topshop’s most design-led range, mined the early 1980s for inspiration. This time round it was the late 1980s that provided the main source of reference – while early 1990s club culture and intergalactic imagery were added to the mix. Sitting agog in the front row were the It girls Daisy Lowe and Pixie Geldof, far too young to remember the raves that first brought these shapes and colours together.
Eighties-inspired trousers covered in green or purple sequins were a key feature of the show, as were skinny leather leggings. There was plenty of grungy layering – a mustard leather pencil skirt was worn over leather trousers, while sequinned socks were pulled up from beneath high-heeled, laced boots. Oversized hooded parkas and glittery capes were layered over loose dresses featuring computer-generated patterns. Knitwear looked handmade and on the brink of unravelling. Combined with hair styled into lots of thin plaits, these clothes were perfect for parking your spray-painted van in a field circa 1989, before heading to an illicit party. Conveniently, there were several square clutch bags adorned with glow sticks in acid yellow, cobalt blue and coral, for just such a scenario.
The galactic motifs came in the form of cropped T-shirts and dresses printed with UFOs, intarsia knitted ponchos, and patterns inspired by crop circles. Oversized shoulders and thigh-high boots with motorcycle leather quilting also lent a sci-fi twist to the collection. The ideas behind the clothes might not have been particularly fresh, especially to anyone who remembers these looks from the first time round. But the emphasis on layering and DIY details mean that the collection is likely to appeal to Topshop’s core young customers, who like to combine clothes in their own experimental way and can wear shellsuit trousers without suffering disturbing flashbacks to a dark fashion past. Those over 40 who venture into Topshop come September will be brave souls.
Another London It girl too young to remember Topshop’s inspiration was the aspiring model Amber Le Bon, who modelled last season for Qasimi. This season the job was left to her mum, veteran model Yasmin Le Bon, at 44 definitely old enough to have “raved” in the late 1980s. Le Bon Snr is rarely seen on the catwalk, so Qasimi, also showing yesterday in London, scored a coup. Perhaps it was the altogether more grown-up silk gowns that swung it for the little-known label.