When Kate Phelan was announced as the creative director at Unique last June, we knew it would mark a significant shift at the brand but I didn't realise just how much until watching the show yesterday. From the very first look it quickly became clear that Unique under Phelan's watch would be different. Gone were the tricks and gimmicks that we saw last season and instead, we saw the standard that we've been hoping to see from them.
The first look - a floor sweeping khaki military coat, high waisted trousers, biker boots and cropped top - set the military tone that dominated the show. Loose fitted T-shirt and shirt dresses came in various shades of khaki which also appeared on belts, bags and a leather over the knee length skirts combined with black panels that has my name all over it. Like in New York, the clothes were oversized and scaled up which really worked on the outwerwear, making it the perfect shape to pile on the layers underneath.
Although the movement away from the gimmicks we saw last season was much appreciated, the strength in the collection lay in Phelan's concer about creating pieces that are both edgy but wearable. Considering that we all left the show desperate to have every piece in our wardrobes now, I'd say that was a mission accomplished.
Big hair, bold colours, hot pants and bell bottoms: if any of these elements didn't tell you Unique decided to step back a few decades for Spring '11, then Stevie Nicks (whose voice played on the show soundtrack) might have to scold you. In reality, Topshop's head of designer, Karen Bonser, said the idea for the collection came from the beauty of flowers in a garden, and the full range of reds, yellows and pinks - plus overt and abstract floral prints - left no doubt about that. What resulted was a glam-rock take on femininity, with the breeziness of chiffon tops countered by slashed skirts; sheer, wide-leg trousers; and sky-high Perspex platforms.
This is hardly a collection for the meek, and it stands in stark contrast to the minimalism dominating the New York shows. But we imagine Topshop's dedicated following will be snapping up these pieces just in time for festivals and spring parties - and setting trends all their own.
One of the talking points each season at fashion week is the subject of models - who will walk for whom? Will there be any newcomers on the block? More recently there has been an element of surprise in the ways of casting for the shows - with Mark Fast and his tendency to shock with plus-size models, and Marc Jacobs and his mix of 'street casting', alongside using his overtly beautiful employees to bring back a sense of the 'real woman'.
This aside, there were the usual appearance of model newbies at London Fashion Week - some more prominent than others. Karmen Pedaru was lucky enough to be chosen by Christopher Bailey to open and close the talk of LFW,Burberry, whilst Kristy Kaurova opened her first show at Paul Smith. Opening for Jaeger London, Matthew Williamson and Nicole Farhi saw Sigred Agren continue to be in demand. However, there might be a new girl about town - Julia Nobis. Having being booked an exclusive for Calvin Klein in New York, she then opened Richard Nicoll and Topshop Unique in London, and then bagged the Pradashow in Milan. We'll be watching Paris with anticipation for Nobis, surely the one to watch for this season.
Topshop Unique chose to go camping this season, with boy scout inspired jackets and shorts, woolly socks and a large helping of fake fur. The collection had us all drooling over slouchy oversized knits, floor length dresses plus plenty of amazing outer-wear. Huge furry mittens, and animal headpieces were added to the mix along with bushy eyebrows, the models appearing like cave women. Colours were earthy with browns, beige and forest green emphasizing texture and pattern along with skinny belts pulling in baggy coats at the waist. Uniform blue was also present amongst the collection, a fresh alternative to the usual blacks and greys of winter.
Finding that perfect Christmas party dress has almost become a modern-day guaranteed nightmare for most of us - there is the question of what colour, shape, length dress to wear, and the dreaded risk that someone may have the same show-stopper as you. For both Fall and Spring, designers have made an easy option for us, the new, little black playsuit. Glamorous with a twist, the LBP comes in many shapes and varieties, making it easy to find a shape to suit. Our favourite is the velvet one-shouldered Topshop version with a Lanvin-esque bow, ticking three trend boxes being velvet, one shouldered and an all-in-one. If you're not feeling brave enough to flash those pins, longer length playsuits are equally as elegant, as demonstrated by actress Jessica Stroup.
Jourdan Dunn has a pretty good reason for not walking in London Fashion Week: She's pregnant with her first child, a son. Still, she took a front-row seat at shows for Topshop Unique and Issa, where she admitted she's liking her break.
"I’ve been watching a lot of daytime telly and eating a lot!" she said. "I thought I wouldn’t like sitting and watching, but now that I’m on the other side, I’m enjoying it . . . My mum keeps saying, Jourdan, the baby’s going to grow a lot, so don’t buy him expensive stuff. But I can’t help it! That baby Ralph Lauren stuff is so cute, I love it!"
Watching or on the runway, we're happy to see the model out and about. And we can't wait to see how gorgeous the baby will be!
Kate Moss was all smiles at the Topshop Unique show at London Fashion Week, and maybe part of it is because of her upcoming TV appearance on E4. OK, we know it's a stretch, but go with it.
Moss, as we previously reported, is set to make an appearance on 'James' Salon', a documentary about the opening of her friend James Brown's first hair salon. "People will see how funny and warm and caring she is," Brown told WWD. "People will see the real her."
The one-hour documentary is set to air on Oct. 13 in the UK.
It's day three of London Fashion Week and it shows. The front rows are quickly getting filled with our fashion week front row favourites. The latest to hit front row? Only Peaches Geldof and Jamie Winestone. Both girls sat front row at the Unique show today.
Shoulders were the focal point at many a show this season. The saying goes that when the world goes through an economic crisis hemlines get lower. Not this time. Designers focused on strong shoulders rather than austerity. Many fashion commentators deduced that served to represent strong women that are ready to face the current economic situation head on, as Alber Elbaz pointed out at Lanvin. Shoulders ranged from soft curved shapes, at Antonio Berardi, to severe shapes at Balmain and Julien Macdonald that showed evidence of science fiction influences. I’m sure many of you are getting bad flash backs of over-the-top 80s padding as you read this, but there is a plus to this trend. Designers like John Rocha accentuated both the shoulders and the hip, which helped take a few inches off the models' waists (not like they need it).