Amid the daily din of central London's Charing Cross Road, this afternoon Topshop presented the September 2017 Collection, inspired by the streets of Soho and the capital's hidden creative world. “This season, we’re looking back to the heady, crazy days of Soho,” creative director Kate Phelan explained to Refinery29 at the beauty run-through. “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.”
Tophop's latest show was a celebration of both the grit and the glamour of Soho's heady nightlife in the '80s and '90s. Perhaps because it was Kate Phelan's last collection for the high street giant (after a six-year stint as creative director), it felt like an especially energetic and rollicking occasion; perhaps it was just a supercharged look back at a time pre-Instagram, when things were less polished and people revelled in individualism. 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.
Adwoa Aboah opened the show to the apt soundtrack of Pet Shop Boys' "West End Girls", wearing a fur-trimmed white leather coat over a pink mini skirt with yellow gold mules and glittering earrings that Pat Butcher would be proud of. She might have been on her way out to the party or coming back in the early hours, but there was definitely an air of dishevelled glamour. Hailey Baldwin stepped out in a bodycon pastel green dress with a coral coat nonchalantly hanging off one shoulder, while Marjan Jonkman wore a yellow satin suit over a snakeskin roll-neck with yellow sunglasses and shoes, all accentuating her white blonde shaggy mop. Where previously Topshop collections have erred on the side of incredibly wearable, many of these pieces weren't for the retiring wallflower.
Exploring the Brit cool sensibility that's always a magpie mix, there were pastel-coloured frilly babydoll dresses, crystal-embellished chiffon blouses, gala gowns, sporty satin knickers, super-skinny atomic silver trousers, shrunken mohair vests and brushed red metallic leather minis. Boudoir influences pervaded, with sheer blouses and plumes of feathers that fluttered off party-girl capes. Sassy diamanté buckle-belts hung across midriffs, adding to the decadent Soho soiree vibe.
“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.” Located on the majority of high streets around the UK (and the world), many of Topshop's most popular items quickly become ubiquitous; however, this show was about avoiding uniformity and mixing and matching items to suit your personality and preferences. Just hurry because key pieces from the catwalk are already available online now.