One thing you can generally count on getting out of a Topshop Unique show is a clear read on the zeitgeist. The savvy folks back at HQ are very good at anticipating what young women want, be it nearly naked slipdresses or oversize anoraks redolent of the rave era. They have a knack for reading their girls' collective energy. This season, though, those powers seem to have dulled. There were a lot of appealing individual pieces here, but it would be impossible to isolate one that felt like a Fall 2014 must-have. And no overarching point of view ever seemed to emerge; the only through lines seemed to be, girls want sweaters and coats that are incredibly cozy, but on the other hand they also want to be naked or nearly so, or dressed but seemingly déshabillé.
The coziness was an easy sell—perhaps the strongest looks here were the puffer jackets, like the cropped gray flannel one worn with a chic full skirt, also in gray. The patchwork fur will undoubtedly find some fans, as well. The nakedness, meanwhile, was less convincing. Frankly, quilted short shorts and knee-high boots do not comprise a look that screams female empowerment, no matter how loudly the Beyoncé song "Run the World (Girls)" is played on the soundtrack at the end of the show. The bustier dresses that looked to be slipping down, revealing underpinnings, just came off as messy. But the sheer looks with tattoo-style thread embroidery were pretty cool, and one of the few ideas in this show that seemed fully explored. This collection suffered from some kind of attention-deficit disorder—subclinical distraction-itis, let's call it. Come to think of it, Topshop may have caught the spirit of the moment exactly right.