The Demise of Topshop – a Surreal View

Topshop, the iconic store beloved for its trendy clothes and accessories at non-designer prices has bitten the dust. The former ‘high street giant’ which in its heyday was a buzzing hangout is a casualty of the pandemic as well as changing attitudes towards consumerism and fast, disposable fashion.

The following photographs, all taken in February 2021 are a subjective take on the demise of the Oxford Street flagship store. As witnessed yesterday, the shop windows no longer display clothing but several contain naked mannequins. I’ve always been intrigued by mannequins. In the history of photography, Eugène Atget and Man Ray’s early 20th Century images of Paris feature representations of mannequins that for me have held an enduring appeal. In addition, I’ve recently discovered Lee Friedlander’s reflected mannequin series which correspond to aspects of my personal work which unite mannequins, facades, reflections and trees.

Here are a couple of shots of the now sealed-off flagship store on Oxford Street, taken on February 13, 2021:

The next two images were taken last week at the windows at the back of the store. When I walked by yesterday, the mannequins had been already been removed. For me these sightings are infused with surrealism, reminiscent of Magritte’s paintings combining elements of naked torsos with blue sky and clouds and architectural elements:

In the following two photographs there is an emphasis on fragmentation and juxtaposition:

In this final image I’m reminded of paintings depicting the biblical story of Adam and Eve’s Fall and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. This is Topshop falling from grace:

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