September 17, 2011
It will be hard to beat Topshop as an object lesson in oversell this season. The show notes for its top-of-the-range Unique collection promised "to rewaken the glamour and opulence of ancient Egypt," with Cleopatra gorgeously reincarnated by Elizabeth Taylor on the invitation. The reality of the show itself was exactly the opposite. Smartly designed, cleverly styled Unique has brilliantly mastered the art of the halo effect for the rest of the Topshop brand, but the sophisticated attitude that characterized it in the past was shelved here. Instead, it looked like a budget version of something Vivienne Westwood might have done decades ago. Maybe that's not a bad thing if you've been craving graffiti tops, gold hoodies, bandeau tops, and tube skirts—and the God of Merch only knows that this is one company with its ear to the ground. Still, there was something sorely missing. Unique has always been pitched as standing for more than the fast fashion the Topshop empire is built on, but the new collection was so disposable-teen in its urban urgency that the gilding on the clothes looked as sticky as the gold on the models' heads. Truly faster fashion.