For those who live in London, had plenty of time on their hands and didn’t have to actually work for a living, the extraordinarily large catalogue of events and shows that surrounded the two weeks of London Fashion Week and London Design Festival were a cultural and experiential feast. But how anyone was supposed to cover them all -or even some of them- without passing out, exhausted, under a canape tray of miniature beetroot and goats cheese brioche, heaven alone knows.
I did all the catwalk shows virtually and went to just one event. Luckily, it was the right one.
Maker’s House, with Burberry and The New Craftsmen Gallery, was my dream shopping experience. Based in the old Foyles building on Tottenham Court Road, the pop up shop-come-museum-come-artisan gallery-come-static catwalk was a joy. Styled by Sue Skeen and Patrick Thompson, the downstairs space was a dark warren of crafts people doing fabulously intricate stuff.
From visible mending by Tom Of Holland, who patched up your worn out clothes with new Burberry fabrics, to Rosalind Wyatt’s beautiful calligraphy (the queues for her work stretched an hour long) to a talk by Burberry archivists about some of their rare heritage pieces on show, the place was exploding with creativity. Obvs, there was a cool coffee shop with amazing cakes too, run by Thomas’s Cafe, temporarily on loan from the Regent Street store.
Each maker’s area was linked by mood board walls of artwork, fabric swatches, ribbons, designer sketches and an abundance of flowers and plaster busts. Every surface was inspiring, every section offered up a new idea to take away, not surprisingly it was heaving with people, curious to experiment, browse and buy.
Not many retail stores I passed to get to this space were heaving, quite a few weren’t even a quarter full of shoppers.
In an attention to detail that I thought was rather wonderful, the garden courtyard was scented by apple and sandalwood incense sticks, from ZamZam.
Once you’d navigated the excitement of the ground floor, you went upstairs and experienced the Burberry catwalk show on mannequins, beautifully styled and ready to buy (although I suspect purchasing anything was a pipe-dream for most of us). It put the Burberry range up-close to people who might not have bothered to go into the store to see it, so even if you weren’t at the show, you felt a little of that excitement through the setting.
The take away trends from the show seemed to be military embellishing, belted dressing-gown chic and more of those statement sleeves.
It was a fabulous experience, hugely inspiring and one that I really wanted you all to go and see.
But there’s the down side, it was on for one week only.
All that hard work installing those beautiful installations and creating the best shop I’ve seen for an age, and it’s all over in a little less time than the career of an England football manager.
I’m so cross about this. The week-long pop up is becoming a daft, elitist idea. More time is needed to enjoy, spread the word and encourage friends to go. It’s not as if retailers are so busy selling stuff in their stores they need to rush home to full stores, clothes sales are slumped. So retailers, enough with the super-fast pop up store please, if you’ve done a good job, we need more time to enjoy it.
Now, if you’ll excuse me I’m off to source some old vintage silk dressing gowns and find out how to make plaster busts…..