It comes as no surprise that Burberry not only continues to wave the Union Jack flag for a wholly traditional British heritage brand, but that they also boast perhaps the most star-studded attendance of any show on the London collections calendar. With a roll call that would send a tingle up any PR’s spine, attendees to the SS16 show on Monday included Benedict Cumberbatch, Naomie Harris, Sienna Miller, Kate Moss, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Leigh Lezark, Paloma Faith and Tinie Tempah.
As guests arrived and filled a giant transparent tent nestled in Hyde Park, a new type of celebrity - the Burberry consumer - was also filling seats in Burberry’s flagship store on Regent Street, receiving the same star treatment as their famed counterparts. Always ahead of the curve, Burberry, who had shown the collection on social media platform SnapChat 24 hours before the actual show, had invited a select number of high-end clients and journalists to the store to have the runway experience.
This experience lacked all the chaos that many fashion veterans complain distract from the essence of the show - the clothes - which on this occasion stood out prominently against the monochromatic set and sultry alluring sounds of Alison Moyet, who provided the live soundtrack for the show.
I was sure to arrive early to the store so that I could watch guests enter. Each arrived in full Burberry regalia and was greeted and embraced by shop assistants, clad in head-to-toe black and carrying iPads ready to take orders immediately following the show. It seems fashion has no intention of slowing down. This idea of shopping the runway in swift turnaround has been echoed in several shows in London including Versus, Henry Holland and Hill & Friends.
However, what struck me most about these guests was their decorum. I overheard the store manager whisper to a colleague, “This is a highly educated audience.” Highly educated in what, I’m not sure, but as a member of said audience, I’ll accept the compliment. At 1:00PM (the scheduled show time on the invite), the audible conversations came to a halt and there was a unified silence that I’ve never seen before at any show.
Although the show did not start until 1:07PM, with the entrance of Moyet to the stage in a black trench - our first cue as to what to expect from Christopher Bailey’s military-infused romantic collection - the store’s audience sat silent, patiently awaiting the start of the show.
And then, like magic, as the first model graced the runway, Moyet in the background, the power of this billion dollar industry became clearly prevalent. One client, sitting next to me whispered to a shop assistant standing nearby, "I love the black trench and lace dress, mark that one down for me.”
The big question that now looms is this: what does this notion of accessibility mean for the state of exclusivity for luxury conglomerates? Technology has merged the barriers that once separated the public from the private spheres of the fashion industry and, with the popularity of high street brands like Zara and & Other Stories usurping consumer dollars, luxury conglomerates are now forced to lower their guards and let the public in. What started as live streaming online has evolved into public performances (cue Givenchy and Marc Jacobs) and in-store experiences that are allowing consumers to get one step closer to that postal delivery that every fashion diehard dreams of – Burberry: Block A, Row 1.
Words: Zadrian Smith
Image source: Vogue Runway