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LFW Interview: Topman Design

“I’m Waiting For The Man” sounding though the Royal Opera House could not have rang any truer on the last day of LFW. As you may or may not know the last day is menswear day; everyone’s (aka my) favourite in the five-day long bitchy, disorganised fug at Somerset House.  It’s low key, it’s chilled and the catty fashion girls have floated away in a sugary tide of Vitamin Water and have been replaced with unbelievably bonestructured male models.

The man we’re waiting for is of course Topman Design. Now, try and forget the misogynistic lad t-shirts and the fact that Topman have singlehandedly turned an entire nation of idiot boys into chinowankers. Whatever. We’ll pretend the two are in no way connected for now.

When director Gordon Richardson tells PN after the show the AW12 collection came from a dark place, he wasn’t joking. Very much the ‘night’ to the ‘day’ of Topman Design’s Kasbah-hued SS12, this collection saw near enough all colour completely drained, instead making statements with texture and structure.  All boys wore Robert Mapplethorpe-like rockabilly quiffs and string chokers, dressed in varying degrees of black, slate, ash with touch of maroon, finished in oil-slick shiny boots. Long heavy coats were gathered at the waist with leather studded belts and fur lapels; the frame was heavy on top and super tailored black trousers and leathers on the bottom.  What the collection lacked in colour it more than made up in diverse and layered textures, using mohair, PVC, lurex, wool and leather.  In a nutshell; very intelligent, very dark and very sexy.

After the show when PN stopped drooling, we had a chat with potentially the nicest gent in fashion, Gordon Richardson. He spent the first few minutes complementing this writer on her outfit, while she was trying to be a serious journalist and discuss the show. Really.

Planet Notion: Congratulations on another gorgeous collection! How did it all come about?

Gordon Richardson: Thank you! Very different to SS12 I think. We’ve sort of washed the palate clean, we did a lot of colour and pattern last year – and we’ve seen quite a lot this year in AW12. When we set out with this show we wanted to keep quite a moody aesthetic, totally referencing that “Just Kids” book by Patti Smith. It’s the things I always love as well, as I have deep roots in music and it’s that lyrical quality and the moment when Patti meets Robert Mapplethorpe. And from looking at them, especially Mapplethorpe, the collection just became darker and more intense. When we first started we had a lot more colour in it and gradually that got stripped out. I think it’s a very concise collection. And also we’re making the brand a lot for luxurious, and more refined. But it does stay true to the Topman Design brand.

PN: You’re obviously strongly influenced by Mapplethorpe, and it’s very evident in the collection

GR: Oh I love Robert Mapplethorpe and Patti Smith!

PN: You’ve been the head of Topman Design for ten years now, and it’s clear it’s a job you relish – but are there any sort of challenges you encounter?

GR: Every year I feel physically sick; every time! And it’s not just me, it is a team and I always say that it is a Topman Design team – and we have a great team! In a team you can work more creatively, and we’ve grown so much as a brand in stature and as a result you do need more people to sort of ‘keep you there’ you know?

Words – Ailie Robertson
Photos - Kaye Ford

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