Burberry and The New Craftsmen's phantasmagoric event for London Fashion Week and the London Design Festival 2016
One of September’s highlights had to be Burberry and The New Craftsmen’s Makers House (which cleverly bridged both London Design and Fashion Weeks) and transformed a dark, pungent corner of Soho into a London hole-and-corner fit for the Bloomsbury Group. The new Burberry collection, for which the Makers House was conceived, was inspired by Virginia Woolf’s 1928 novel Orlando – and deftly reflected its influences in tangible form.
Akin to walking through a Narnian wardrobe, the Makers House’s leafy, pebbled courtyard lined with plaster busts beckoned one forward into a theatre of making and productivity.
The ground floor of the house had a curated cast of makers and craftspeople that knitted together both heritage skills and contemporary practice. Over the course of the week there was patchworking with Rachel Scott, military embellishment with saddlers from the King’s Troop, Traditional lacquer techniques with Pedro da Costa Felgueiras, silkscreen printing with Rose de Borman and hand graving of resin vessels by designer Marlene Huissoud.
Tucked into a side room were ‘The Reading Steps’ – a wooden spiral staircase by James Plumb; providing a suitably atmospheric setting for theatrical readings from Woolf’s novel…
Upstairs, the top floor was dedicated to the latest Burberry collection that centred on contrasting masculine and feminine styles across different periods in history. The turn of the century dark wooden and carpeted interior complemented the pieces with their tassels, tufts, voile, velvet and brocade.
Just as Christopher Bailey (Burberry's chief creative and chief executive officer) describes Orlando as ‘a love letter both to the past and a work of profound modernity’, so Bailey’s latest collection aims for similar ideals, by uniting womenswear and menswear into the same event and abandoning the usual fashion conventions of time. Unlike their predecessors, these ‘seasonless’ clothes were available for sale immediately.
The Makers House succeeded where so many others fail, by crafting an intriguing space between fantasy and reality, offering a spirit of a past time whilst breaking with fashion’s conventions and by demonstrating their commitment to craft rather than telling you about it – that surely deserves a round of applause.