It's an odd time to watch a fashion show. The style press is full of talks of a 'crashing system', while the broader press agitates about a referendum that may well see the UK leave the EU. Leaving is a theme for S/S 17. Numerous brands are 'sitting out a season' or 'taking a break' as they either embrace See-Now-Buy-Now, break in a new designer or merge their menswear with their womenswear: Burberry, Pringle, Saint Laurent, Zegna and Calvin Klein are all missing from the European menswear schedule. So, the decision of the Topman Design team - the show that kicks the whole shebang off - to promote a celebration of Britishness, and the UK’s famous seaside towns, felt more punchy and more pointed than ever. Was it about pride? Politics? Or simply nostalgia. Pictures of the show will interrupt endless Instagrams, mostly regrammed from Wolfgang Tillmans, declaring us European, not British. Yes, it's an odd time for Fashion Week - but it’s an odd time for the world too.
But when things get tough what do you do? Go on holiday. Perhaps that's what Gordon Richardson and his Topman team were thinking for S/S 17 - a light respite and touch of frivolity to distract from real life. That explains the sequin motifs, the ice-cream tones and postcard captions. A sweatshirt with the caption Margate cropped up a few times. Another example of the Topman team’s ability to take a crisis, ignore it and spit it back out as something fun and easily digestible. Margate’s a buzzing town right now - as young people, including many of those in the creative arts, are forced out of London by rent hikes and general living costs, the town has won new residents who are slowly turning it into what will be sold on as a 'creative hub'. If anyone needs a sign that the process of gentrification that has whipped through London is about to occur in Margate, this sparkly sweater was it.
Sounds camp? It was. The foppish, androgyny of last season has been replaced by a boyish spirit, a knowing laddishness, even. There were short shorts, pastel hues, and ice-cream and heart emblems. One could’t help but be caught by the sparkling postcard-inspired motifs that decorated pieces. Like the shiny distractions that pull you into a peer ride, or cause you to part with cash for an overpriced snack or impossible arcade game, they provided a moment’s amusement - a little uplift during this strange, uncertain time.