Since its launch about a year ago, Topshop’s in-house premium brand IDOL has become our most in-demand collection. The autumn winter capsule, which just dropped today, is defined by luxe contrasting textures, new heavy embellishment and, as always, a dark rock and roll edge. Want to know more? We headed down to the studio to see some IDOL magic happen first-hand and speak to Design Director, Anthony Cuthbertson, about the inspiration behind all the latest pieces…
What was the inspiration behind this November IDOL drop?
We started off by looking at early ‘80s Helmet Newton photography and integrating an early ’90s Tom Ford vibe in there too. So we were really going back to dark rock and roll, whereas the other earlier collections were travelling from Tibet into the seventies. The last collection, ‘Through The Looking Glass’, then moved into Asia where we were thinking of early ’30s Singapore. This recent drop is set during the ’80s and has a real hard edge which fits in more with winter and the build up to Christmas.
What are the main textures, fabrics and prints that we should look out for in the collection?
There are so many great textures to look out for and IDOL is all about pairing them together! We’ve got these beautiful, new snowflake-like polka dot prints and also lots of baroque textile prints that we’ve overlaid with different laces and inserts. There are lots of top store shearlings and harder edge aviator jackets where we’ve played around with foiling. Plus there are some amazing zebra prints on skirts and dresses, waxed denim, ultra high shine PU leather pieces and big poppy prints! It’s all got quite an androgynous mood to it that really mixes highs and lows of casual with real premium leather pieces. It’s very IDOL to mix all these unique pieces and prints altogether!
Were there any particular fashion icons you kept in mind during the design process?
We always think about our rock girl, so we’re always looking back into the archives of icons like Kate Moss. The whole idea of IDOL is that it’s influenced by music. We see it sitting in a place where it’s got lots of music influences that are really rock and roll – anybody from Kate Moss to Patti Smith to new emerging talent. It’s also a little derivative from French dressing and has a bit of an LA vibe as well. I think generally the IDOL customer is confident. They’re body positive. They’ve got a sexiness and they’ve got a strong attitude.
How is this IDOL drop different from the previous two drops earlier this year?
Well, with the build up to Christmas, there are more intense sparkles across a lot of the collection. So, we’ve got new boiler suits with all the iridescent studs, star hand embellished pieces and beautiful little star floral prints on pretty tea dresses. Of course, going into November and December, there is more of a cold weather focus too. So, for example, there are lots of high waisted top pants that really emphasise the waist and Crombie shearling coats. All the sheepskin for these are from the UK too so we’re supporting UK manufacturing which is fantastic for the carbon footprint. There are also some great new denims where we’ve created new wash blacks instead of true black – these are really cool for winter.
I think each collection that drops evolves a bit from the last but we consider the pieces across all of them to be must-have pieces which people can always keep in their wardrobe and return to. We see IDOL as something to invest in. Especially because, whilst other Topshop lines build on trends, for IDOL we draw so much inspiration from lasting vintage pieces. It’s almost like our in-house designer brand which is establishing a distinct aesthetic and style.
How do all these different inspiration points influence the art direction behind the photoshoots?
Well first we build and present the collections. Then it’s all about keeping the identity throughout the process. When myself and David, the Creative Director, did the first IDOL collection we had a very clear view of who we wanted the model to be: we wanted a youthful rock and roll icon with an international vibe, not just British. Their hair was a bit gritty and they would give an effortless impression. For the imagery, we’ve used the same photographer all the way through to keep the richness in the photography consistent. It’s a lot about the model really, her attitude.
This time, because of all the dark textures in the collection, we’ve gone pure black for the shoot and used water to add extra texture. In the last shoot it was all about reflecting light so we used mirrors whereas this is more about creating texture on black so the movement of the water works well. The team this morning have spent the hours and hours filling up the studio with water like a little swimming pool – how they’re going to empty it, I do not know! Thankfully, that’s not my job!
There’s going to be another IDOL drop in February – what do we have to look forward to?
Oh, it has a completely different vibe! So much more colour! It’s all based around Romeo and Juliet. It’s about two gangs and tribes, like in the Leonardo DiCaprio movie version. We’ve taken inspiration from that, so it’s got a little bit of a western style and then a Vietnamese vibe as well with lots of traditional prints, amazing textiles and colour. Again it’s a move forward and it feels very youthful with a real tongue and cheek vibe in there with some fun Hawaiian prints. Colour-wise, there is lots shine, lots of pastels, gold and white. It’s going to be really good!