The Topshop Unique show is a big deal at LFW. Everybody shows up. Last season, I was almost knocked onto the road by Naomi Campbell’s entourage, and then I got to interview the amazing(ly thin) Anna Dello Russo. This year, the Slightly Less Very Important People (of which I was one) were relegated to a balcony overlooking the Slightly More Very Important People, and since so many people had squeezed themselves up against the railing, I had trouble doing my usual star scan. By the time I’d found a shorty to peer over, the show was kicking off.
For FW12, the Unique design team – helmed by Vogue UK’s Fashion Director Kate Phelan – really upped the ante. Structured military-inspired jackets were juxtaposed with over-sized shirts and slouchy jumpers, pants and dresses, which if I were a girl would be pretty much everything I’d want to wear (I’m probz going to buy the khaki coat from Look 1 anyway). The blend of muted colours like khaki, grey, and burgundy made the collection super wearable, whilst splashes of burnt orange, lemon and bright red kept it from feeling dreary.
At first, I was a little baffled by their decision to send out shimmery party dresses at the end, but as the models marched out for the finale, I got to thinking that maybe it was better that they’d thrown a curveball and finished on a fun note. Speaking of fun, here’s hoping velour jumpsuits are trending (my housemate and I have animal print onesies that we wear when we’re playing Wii, but I feel like the chic, black, velvety jumpsuit that Unique sent down the runway would give me the confidence boost I need to finally rule the Mario Kart raceway).
Burberry Prorsum’s AW12 presentation was certainly a highlight this LFW. The title of the collection is ‘Town and Field’ so there was a curious mix of garments that ranged from shimmery-fringed cocktail dresses to warm, comfy corduroy jackets. The common thread in this, and every other recent Burberry collection, is that each piece simultaneously elicits memories of bygone eras whilst retaining modernity — interesting cuts and unexpected fabric choices made the old feel new.
Christopher Bailey had fun with this collection — it was evident in the details. Think studded leather gloves, bags with gilded animal’s heads for clasps, puffy pockets on pencil skirts, elasticized bow belts that cinched over-size jackets, diagonal zipper-lined ruffles, striped umbrellas and sparkly animal-shaped appliqués. Whilst that level of eclecticism could have looked directionless, Bailey somehow pulled it all together succinctly, which is testament to what a clever dude he is. Viewed separately, the garments and accessories might seem like pieces to different puzzles, though together, they all worked in a kind of super-chic, thrown together, Helena Bonham Carter way. For the finale, the music stopped and fake thunder echoed through the greenhouse-like venue — literally shaking us in our seats. Then, as the models marched out beneath those wonderful striped umbrellas (I really want one BTW), water streamed down the sides of the see-through structure whilst metallic confetti rained down on the crowd.
Whilst such showmanship could have effectively distracted editors from a less-than-lustrous collection, it didn’t need to. As I felt my way through the expansive showroom beneath Burberry Head Quarters in London today, it was hard not to be impressed by the attention-to-detail in each and every piece (and it’s hard not to be impressed by the fact that their clothes managed to impress me after four days of serious fashion overload).