Burberry brought the traffic to a halt on Monday literally, in this nondescript part of west London where Kensington ends and Hammersmith begins when chief creative officer Ricardo Tisci staged the venerable British label’s autumn/winter 2020 catwalk presentation in the cavernous Olympia Grand Hall. The iconic venue which has hosted everything from the International Horse Show, Ideal Home Show, to the Cruft Dog Show has never needed so much TLC as it awaits a £1bn regeneration and facelift.
Street style photographers arrived in their droves like moths drawn to a flame to snap the influencers, supermodels and A-listers who sashayed, posed and pouted their way through the surrounding streets. Hammersmith Road had not seen so much stardust in a long while, normally used to hordes of exhibition organisers and visitors retiring to the Hand and Flower gastro pub to let their hair down.
The vivid colours of tropical fruits arranged in rows in front of grocery shops made perfect props for the finery as the fashion set made their way to the show. In its hey day the boarded-up Yas Persian restaurant attracted diners from across London and was a vibrant nightspot. The parade of cafes and groceries specialise in Middle Eastern produce but had guests been after more filling pre or post-show grub, their best bet would have been local institution, Franks (sorry, no apostrophe) Sandwich Bar, with its wrap-around Coca Cola branding which according to a notice in the window serves “all day breakfasts”. After getting breakfast done, Burberry would have been the perfect dessert.
The atmospheric 170ft barrel-vaulted roof with its ornate iron Victorian architecture was the perfect setting for Tisci as models walked a raised-mirror runway to a unique performance by Venezuelan artist Arca and classical duo and sibling pianists, Katia and Marielle Labèque. Tisci, whose career started in London when he moved to the city as a 17-year-old student said the collection was inspired by his memories of travel and discovery that have informed him as a designer.
He said: “Moving back to London recently – a city I first discovered as a young student – gave me a real sense of nostalgia. It was the place where I learnt to be myself and a city where I gained the confidence to be the man that I am today. I have this strong feeling of pride when I think about the early days of my career, when I was an emerging designer still learning my craft and taking inspiration wherever I could find it.
“The memory of this special and formative time in my life is what has influenced this collection – from the places I visited and the people that surrounded me to the music that inspired me. It is this side of my personal journey that I wanted to blend with the codes and language that I have started to define on my latest journey here at Burberry.”
Stella McCartney, Victoria Beckham, Alice Temperley, Net-a-Porter and Mulberry are just a few of the fashion brands that have made west London neighbourhoods their ateliers and headquarters. And yes, Cate Blanchett, Gigi and Bella Hadid, Anna Wintour, Naomi Campbell, Burna Boy, Edward Enninful, residents and commuters all starred in this fashion fairytale. Who needs the front row when the spectacle unfolds right before your eyes on your front door.