Kate Moss popping up in the front row of the Topshop Unique show was such an eye-swiveller that the A-line skirts, floppy shirtdresses, and all-in-ones designed in-house by Nick Passmore and her team had a tough time competing for attention. Moss was on the brink of signing up to do her own line for the company, and the reason she was about to commit had as much to do with the quality of the clothes on the runway as it had to do with the billions of its owner, Philip Green, sitting next to her. Topshop's instinct-led culture (phooey to focus groups, say the girls) has created Britain's fastest, most on-the-money high street fashion brand, one that often gets the gist of trends at the same time as more elevated designers.
A second glance at the Unique line for spring proved that point. Simple, breezy cotton smock tops and short roomy dresses in rumpled linen were sexed up a bit with the addition of short-shorts, rompers, and sharp shots of acid yellow. The effect was somewhere between Chloé and Marc by Marc Jacobs, with a lot of the less 'designed' pieces looking on target enough to please the brand's millions of young followers. The showing of a small segment of Topshop's massive inventory may not amount to a 'collection' as we know it on loftier runways, but Topshop's brain trust is on to something. They know that the best way to look cool is never to try too harda subject upon which Miss Moss is, of course, a world authority.