Burberry leads the charge for a new fashion model with an 'Orlando'-inspired show at Makers House

Updated 10th October 2016
Burberry leads the charge for a new fashion model with an 'Orlando'-inspired show at Makers House
Written by Fiona Sinclair Scott, CNNLondon
The fashion show, conceived by an Englishman in Paris in the mid-nineteenth century, is being transformed. And so it feels only appropriate that the man leading the charge for a new fashion model, over 120 years after Charles Frederick Worth's death, is also a Brit.
Last February, Christopher Bailey, Chief Creative Officer and CEO of Burberry, announced that come September the fashion house would show a 'seasonless' collection of mens and womenswear fully available for purchase immediately after the show. The six month waiting game would be over. "See now, buy now" had begun.
And so followed a series of similar moves. In New York this season Tom Ford, Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren all showed instantly shoppable collections.
What would Worth make of the change? In his day the upper echelons of Parisian, and then American, society were ushered into private salons four times a year to view his designs.
The format was simple and soon widely adhered to -- the shows would begin with day wear and end with evening wear and, of course, the wedding gown. They were elite, exclusive and it took months for the public to see any of the designs shown behind these tightly closed doors.
This September, male and female models walked in a show live-streamed on the Burberry website, Facebook and YouTube. Burberry also launched on Facebook Messenger offering live customer service facilities for eager buyers.
Literal hordes of fashion editors, online journalists and celebrities piled into an old bookshop in London's Soho area -- transformed into Makers House -- to watch the show and explore an exhibition of artisans and craftspeople -- including saddlers, embroiderers, scentmakers and bookbinders -- that will remain in the space for another week.
An artisan works in Makers House.
An artisan works in Makers House. Credit: Dan Medhurst
But visibility and accessibility did not override the drama and romance of a fashion show. Models walked to the live soundtrack of a 21-piece orchestra that, accompanied by pianist Rosey Chan and vocalists, performed 'Reliquary' -- a score written by British composer Ilan Eshkeri, exclusively for the show.
The collection -- presented across three rooms painted in dusky pinks, greens and yellows -- combined denim, knitwear and pyjama-silk fabrics, blending day and night, casual and formal. Ruffle neck shirts looked dreamily to the past while the androgynous casting and styling secured the collection's contemporary edge.
Craftsmanship on display at Makers House.
Craftsmanship on display at Makers House. Credit: Dan Medhurst
A copy of 'Orlando' by Virginia Woolf was left for each guest on the pale pink fabric-covered benches. Widely regarded as one of Woolf's more popular and accessible reads, the novel's protagonist is born into the body of a man but later transforms into a woman, living some 300 years into modern times. Neither time nor gender could stop Woolf's story and it seems the same now applies to Bailey.