Tuesday, October 10, 2006

LOVING / HATING THE HIGH STREET...


It's funny when what you consider to be your style is everywhere. Like not funny haha, funny WEIRD. At the moment it's as if a retail spy has infiltrated my wardrobe and used it to stock the British High Street. I walked into Gap and the first thing I saw was my Comptoir de Cotonniers winter coat from last year. It was exactly the same except the collar wasn't as nicely rounded. Fuckity fuck. I wore my Maje short trench jacket and my friend said "Oh yeah, I've seen that, you got it in Topshop recently didn't you?" "No actually I got it in Paris about six months ago," I replied stiffly. Again, they're exactly the same except in slightly thicker fabric. Oh, how I miss the days when people said "Ooh is that Marc Jacobs?" and I smugly quipped "Nah, twenty quid from Topshop." The other way round is so much less fun.

Every dress in Topshop at the moment seems somehow related to my wool button down Vanessa Bruno dress which I was kind of hoping to wear again this year. And I'm not saying I invented plaid checked tops. Just, you know lovingly accumulated them over the years with much searching and rejecting of those not quite perfect enough. My beloved absolutely favourite Rutzou top, coveted in Copenhagen but above my budget, then snapped up in Selfridges sale for £22. And my perfect vintage plaid cowboy shirt. And my authentic real Canadian shirt which I actually really did buy in Canada (I bought a kids size so it's not baggy). Now - a sea of plaid in Urban Outfitters and Topshop, everywhere, and, and, but they're cute, but it's too easy, but they're cute, but you don't need any more, but you might as well, too many commas, etc etc.

Oh, and how could I complain that both Topshop and Faith have rip offs of the Chloe T strap ballet shoes I wanted from last season? For £20. But I don't want them now I can have them easily in pleather. I like the hunt. All the pseudo vintage stuff is quite good, but it sort of makes you feel less original wearing real vintage stuff. Today I consoled myself by buying a charcoal grey wool pinafore dress because I really need another charcoal grey dress which invites the question "When's it due love?" It's only men who ever say that anyway. Men! Why not pick up a Sunday newspaper style supplement and acquaint yourselves with the volume trend? You can ogle models at the same time.
Anyhoo we really might as well make the most of Topshop while we can. Do not underestimate how much Jane Shepherdson, design director of Topshop who resigned last week, was the driving force behind the Topshop we all know and love today. Would you have been seen dead in there ten years ago? It was grim.

At heart, Topshop is an old school, hierarchical, corporate, rag trade monolith where you have to get clearance from twelve different departments before going to the loo, let alone implementing a new idea. For sure there are a few other forward thinkers around there, but it takes a certain kind of person to cut through all that. Her departure even warranted a slot on the national evening news; okay possibly that was just as an excuse to show footage of Kate Moss at Fashion Week with (Topshop/Arcadia boss) Phillip Green - and I'm really not so sure it's true (as the 'papers keep saying) that Jane Shepherdson gave up her position because she felt sidelined by Kate doing a capsule collection for the brand. Weirdly I'm not overly excited about the Kate thing happening. It'll be interesting to see how it all turns out. But there is a silver lining (polyester mix?) which is that Jane must be going somewhere, hopefully not the far east or retiring to an island...

4 comments:

Julia said...

Brilliant!

You've taken the words out of my mouth, yet again :-)

hester said...

So funny and true - though living in Switzerland sometimes makes me miss Topshop, I am also liking buying more clothes that I LOVE and less just for the sake of it... I think that Maje and Comptoir des Cottoniers are always a step ahead of Topshop!
Also funny because I also have many voluminous dresses that look like I could be preggers! My boyfriend is on the fence about them...

Bombay Beauty said...

A delicate issue here. Style as absolute versus style as relative. Is it possible that the whole world can just get more stylish? Certainly, witness the entire decades we've gone through of bad clothes. And one country can be more stylish than other. Perhaps it gets back to the issue of stylish originality versus stylish conformism you wrote about a long while back in comparing London and Paris. In Paris, everyone is stylish or seems that way without necessarily doing anything cutting edge-- it becomes a collective style. Whereas in London, people are much more original -- you've always got to define yourself not by how you stylishly conform, but by how you are one step ahead.

All of this has one important implication: you're going to have to move. Paris might be easier, so then you could just stylishly conform. Or move to the US, where the level of style is so much lower.

Cheers,

BB

Lola is Beauty said...

Ah, but often in London the original/edgy people in their quest to look different all end up looking the same as each other! The only way to get round it is to make your own clothes. I suppose it's all the same in the end but yes at least being a step ahead is some consolation. I always think that people in NYC (not part of the US really!) dress really smartly and dress up more but I haven't been there for so long my view is probably based more on the Sartorialist's pics than any reality!