"Ethereal," was Topshop head of design Karen Bonser's definition of the mood for today's Unique collection. She'd been looking at pictures she'd taken of flowers in her garden, mesmerized by the light shining through them. And her studio was equally captivated by fairies and creatures from myth, like Pegasus and the unicorn. But Topshop is a pop shop, so there was nothing as literal as Tinkerbell. Instead, there were floaty chiffon scarf tops, fluttering capelets and filmy palazzos, clothes for contemporary fairy princesses in an array of fantastical prints. (With their sky-high Perspex platforms, these maidens even brought their own towers with them.)
If the glitter and flare of the clothes brought glam rock to mind, it was the frilled prettiness of Marc Bolan, rather than the androgynous edge of David Bowie. The huge, frizzy hair, streaked with color, helped. But the look was equally evocative of the disco princesses of those ever-lovin' more-is-more seventies. A rhinestone-studded top paired with beaded pants just about nailed it. Even a smartly tailored suit—which momentarily suggested a professional pause in the ongoing parade—gave it up for trails of chiffon in the back.
A burst of Stevie Nicks' "Edge of Seventeen" on the soundtrack cued a surprising side trip to Southern California, all shades of red desert and orange sunset. A red suede dress, high at the front, dipping low at the back, was perforated into lace by a Pegasus motif. Distressed denim trailed cotton fringing, bags were tasseled. They could have seemed schizo in light of what had come before, but instead they played right along with the intense mood of fantasy and escapism. In amid this farrago of fabulosity, the white and cream pieces were the least successful. Tellingly, they were also the plainest. Maybe that's Topshop's Unique lesson: The more stuff you throw at the wall, the more stuff sticks.