September 16, 2012
Kate Phelan's Unique mantra remained the same as last season: Keep it real, keep it desirable. Under her guidance, the Unique collection is evolving into what she calls "Topshop's big sister," meaning a chic, not funky, sophistication. It was in full effect today. A mostly black and white palette; streamlined silhouettes; the confident use of sheer and shine; and the fluid, light layering all combined to give the clothes an urban airiness, like a breeze through big city streets. But what truly earns Unique its name is Phelan's years as a Vogue stylist. "I always liked everything a bit off-kilter," she said after the show. So there was plenty of visual interest in the subtle asymmetry of diagonally zipped dresses, the graphic black and white florals of silk hostess pajamas, or the spidery windowpane checks that looked drawn on by hand. A boyfriend jacket in daffodil yellow was the sort of thing a stylist might use to inject a note of fashionable discord into an otherwise monochrome editorial. Choose one outfit to define just how convincing Phelan's point of view is, and it could well be the swagged-back sweatshirt layered over a silver sequin skirt and organza underskirt. Casual, elegant, rich. Topshop may well be the ne plus ultra of fast fashion, but big sister is developing a look that lasts.