Frilly knickers, stick-of-rock stripes, dance hall sparkle… Unique SS15 kicked off at 3pm today and brought the faded glamour of the British seaside to a car park in King’s Cross. And why not? From the Pier to the Pleasure Beach to the dance-all-night adventures, it was a sea-sprayed celebration of British youth culture that lives for the weekend. Bring on next summer…
THE GIRLS: It was #Generationgirl all the way with campaign girl Cara opening and closing the show, followed by her mighty girl gang of Lily Donaldson, Sam Rollinson, Jourdan Dunn, Malaika Firth and Devon Windsor. Chills. Multiplying.
THE INSPIRATION: Backstage after the show, Topshop’s Creative Director Kate Phelan said: “This season we went to the old grass roots of Britain. We went to Blackpool – from the Pleasure Beach to the ballroom. We wanted to capture that real spirit of youth in Northern England.”
THE BOY-GIRL BLEND: It was all about mixing lad’s sportswear (think old-school cycling jerseys, tracky tops and sporty skirts) but keeping it feminine with the frills, ruffles and sparkles (Strictly Come Dancing, anyone?).
THE HERO PIECES: Striped leather Harrington, colour-block cycling jerseys, sporty minis, crystal-adorned dance gowns, frilly knickers. Head of Design Emma Farrow summed it up before the show: “It’s about mixing up the sporty and the soft – great summer clothes and beautiful dresses”.
THE COLOURS: Bold primaries dashed with ice-cream pastels: pillar box red, sherbet lemon, pistachio, Rouge Noir.
‘Our Lips Are Sealed’ Fun Boy Three
‘Love Letters’ Metronomy (Soulwax Remix)
‘Time’ Jungle (Joe Goddard Remix)
‘Can’t Do Without You’ Caribou
‘Tainted Love’ Gloria Jones
WHAT DID THE FRONT ROW SAY?
Jessie Ware: “I loved the sporty mixed with the sparkles and I’ve totally got my eye on the striped leather jacket!”
Daisy Lowe: “I loved the sheer dresses – anything sparkly always floats my boat.”
Grazia’s Jane Bruton: “Sweet, sporty, saucy finale at Topshop Unique.”
Porter’s Lucy Yeomans: Unique British beauties @caradelevingne & official_lily_donaldson light up the catwalk at @topshop.”
You may recognise her from Channel 4’s hilarious-and-amazing fly-on-the-wall show The Model Agency…it’s Annie! Model booker and scout extraordinaire for Premier Model Management. Based in LA now – a California girl with a London state of mind – she’s back at Premier HQ in Covent Garden for LFW, where we grab her for a chat…
So, London Fashion Week…what’s it all about for model bookers?
London’s tricky because we’re squashed between New York and Milan and it’s all very rushed. The big girls arrive on the Friday and it’s bang bang bang! They touch down and immediately dive into 15 or 20 castings. Then it’s on to fittings. We’ll be working super late because of the all fittings we have through the night.
What do you love about LFW?
We have the best design talent in London.
Which models are you tipping this season?
We’ve got a lot of the top breakthrough girls – Alex H from Germany girl did Alexander Wang and Marc Jacobs in New York. Brit girl Phillipa Hemphrey also did Wang, Marc Jacobs and Proenza, which are the top shows in New York. Then I absolutely adore our new girl Joline. Her look is amazing – she’s from Curaco in the Caribbean.
Why the move to LA?
I scout the West Coast – and the rest of the US – for new faces. I’ve got a different eye to the American scouts – European, so it works really well. I do miss playing mum to the new faces back in London though.
What do you look for in the girls?
So much of it is about personality. I discovered some really cool girls in Arizona recently – they all had really confident personalities.
Where are the best places for scouting?
The best places to find girls are the places where no one goes! Like rural Arhuf in Copenhagen where I discovered farmers girls. Same for Quebec in Canada – it’s freezing so nobody wants to go there. It’s extreme scouting!
Have you experienced any culture shock?
Model conventions are very very weird. You’re locked in the ballroom of a rubbish hotel three days marking girls out of ten as they run through different rounds from swimwear to runway and dancing! It feels like you’re in the ‘80s.
This season, with our most social catwalk yet, we picked five rising stars of Instagram to shoot our show and the London Fashion Week experience. Arriving in town and ready to report – we caught up with them for cocktails at the opulent St Pancras Renaissance Hotel last night to talk about personal style, Instagram and their LFW experience so far. Here’s what they had to say…
Central Saint Martins graduate and Fashion Editor Frances (@tilfrances) has been keeping a keen eye on all the NYFW action. “I’m totally obsessed with American Heritage brands. The Tommy Hilfiger show was a “70s dream – I love a flare”. We agree.
Chinese born Olivia (@olivialsr) describes her style as “minimal and simple” citing Balenciaga as her favourite designer. We’re looking forward to seeing her stripped back approach to shooting the Topshop Unique show.
Street style photographer and blogger Jessie Bush (@wethepeoplestyle) is a Fashion Week regular both in front of and behind the camera. We asked about how London street style differs from New York; “Londoners tend to be bit more daring with their street style looks. In New York everyone is beautifully dressed but wouldn’t look out of place outside of fashion week”
Architect Ana (@anasbarros) and her pet French Bulldog @miudafrenchie are Austrian Insta-royalty, racking up 400K followers between them – a number that is constantly increasing. “It’s the amazing the power of topshop, I have 1000 more followers just from today”. From Karl Lagerfeld’s cat Choupette and Cara’s beloved Cecil, #petsofinstagram are huge right now, “no one knows my name but they know my dog. She’s kind of a diva”.
Our Instagram competition winner Natalie Miller is super excited to be a part of our show experience. With exclusive insider access, Natalie had a sneak peak of the runway pieces. “It is going to be amazing. Brit style at its best” says Natalie.
Ever wondered how our LFW show comes together? From late night’s spent manoeuvring the seating plan to final design tweaks, we take you behind the scenes in the lead-up to our SS15 Unique catwalk.
1. THE DESIGN
It starts with the clothes. Emma Farrow and Kate Phelan are the women behind our Unique creations – Topshop’s Head of Design and Creative Director. British youth culture is always the starting point and this season they’ve been inspired by the faded glamour of the British seaside. You’ll have to wait ’til 3pm to see the designs (debuted on our livestream and Facebook), but Emma told us to expect “great summer clothes and beautiful dresses – it’s about living for the weekend.”
2. THE PRODUCTION
Next up it’s time to make the designs. Geraldine O’Brien heads up a team of pattern cutters and seamstresses at our in-house design room, overseeing the entire process from producing samples to testing final fits. Working at Topshop for 20 years now, she’s seen through many a Unique show, “creating the collections is always as hectic as it is exciting,” she said. “We’ll be making final garments right up to the wire!”
3. THE MODELS
Model castings happen just a few days before, when the best girls fly in from NYFW. Casting director Rosie Vogel and stylist Beth Fenton look for girls who embody all things Topshop – “they’re fresh and beautiful, but most importantly they need attitude” Rosie told us. This season’s line-up is set to be the best yet, with the likes of Jourdan Dunn, Sam Rollinson and a certain AW14 campaign girl popping in for fittings yesterday…
4. THE HAIR & MAKE-UP
Hair and make-up is masterminded by L’Oreal stylist Anthony Turner and Topshop beauty consultant Hannah Murray. After seeing the collection for the first time on Friday, they set out to test out potential looks. “I want to do something to toughen the girls up, but still have an English spirit” said Hannah. “It’s about having attitude and not being too polished. As soon as I saw the designs I imagined a strong lip!” Follow @Topshop on Instagram to see the hair and beauty looks first.
5. THE GUEST LIST
Who gets to see the Unique show? Managing the guest list is no mean feat for Susie Dewey – our International Press Officer. But after doing it for seven seasons now (and beforehand for Burberry) she’s become a pro. “This season we’ve had over 5000 ticket requests, with only capacity FOR about 600″ she tells us. “We accept people based on the publication they work for or maybe because they have a really interesting blog – not necessarily with thousands of followers.” Then comes the seating plan. “We print out a huge architectural plan of the Show Space and every approved guest has a sticker – the logistics of the seating is very important – I call it political jenga!”
Watch the Unique show livestream on topshop.com at 3pm today.
WHO: Another of the NEWGEN gang – Lucas Nascimento, a designer championed for his ability to take knitwear from off-duty to after-hours; this season he created all-knitted jacquards by blending silk with twisted yarn.
WHAT: The designer’s on-schedule catwalk show at London Fashion Week.
WHERE: LFW HQ at Somerset House.
FRONT ROW: The Independent’s Fashion editor Alex Fury, plus big-time bloggers like Susie Bubble and DisneyRollerGirl.
COLLECTION IN 5 WORDS: Sheer, draping, jewel-tones, silk, layering.
PLAYLIST: Dreamy glockenspiels with drums building for a dramatic finale.
WHAT WE LOVED: The COLOURS. The looks went from soft butterscotch leather to rich jacquard jewel tones then clean top-to-toe white.
INSPIRED BY: Lucas’ long-term BFF and visual artist Nina Fowler, for being “extremely determined yet relaxed.”
HERO PIECE: The tangerine-coloured ‘half-dress’ that sent everyone’s Instagram feed into an orange frenzy
HAIR & BEAUTY: Make-up was fresh and neutral with graphic white liner on the eyes, while hair came slicked on-top but left loose and flowing down the back.
WHAT THE SHOW NOTES SAID: “The SS15 collection reveals a woman’s nonchalant refinement.
WHAT THE EDITORS SAID:
@Indyfashion: “Asymmetric Satsuma. A sentence I never thought I’d write.”
@CharlotteGush: “Beautiful jewel tones, layering and sari-style draping at Lucas Nascimento.”