Tuesday, 20 September 2011


So this year's London Fashion Week has taken an interesting twist at the hands of Christopher Bailey, which wouldn't be the first time.Last season, Bailey used his fashion house Burberry to subvert the concept of exclusivity and the catwalk show by projecting the A/W show on a huge screen at the tourist-trap centre of London's Piccadilly. This time, he appeared to push the boundaries even further by live-tweeting each look from S/S 2012 before (gasp!) his privileged audience got to see them on the catwalk.

All of this would provide good reason to think of Bailey as a man single-handedly re-inventing the entire concept of the fashion show, as many have done. The first couture shows in London by Lady Duff Gordon in Hanover Square in the early 19th century set the tone for the catwalk show as utterly exclusive and elitist. In the hundred years since then, they have changed very little. (See Tom Ford's bizarre ban on photography at his hyper-exclusive showing this season). These live-tweets, in stark contrast, suggest that high-fashion is not something for just the few to enjoy. How then does this new seemingly accessible presentation change our relationship with fashion as consumers? How has it altered the distance, which has always been such a crucial element of our desire for fashion, between creator and buyer?

Bailey has said himself that he is keen to push Burberry into the heart of the digital media revolution, and so far, he seems to be on a solo-mission in that direction. This does produce some very interesting dichotomies which i think he is really brave to explore: the contrast between textile craft techniques at the heart of the Burberry aesthetic contrasted with the modern, digitalised method of presentation. However, part of me also wonders if it might be rather naive to view this 'live-tweeting' as an entirely democratising, 'fashion-is-for-all' movement. Rather conversely, could it be that by shifting Burberry onto a digital platform like twitter, a place of alternative reality, he is creating fashion imagery in a place non of us can really get to. Fleeting, momentary and utterly intangible; is there anything less distant than the world of Twitter? If we think of it that way, its a medium perfectly suited to fashion. Perhaps Tom Ford should re-consider his strategy.

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