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Burberry’s Brits



Burberry aw17
What did everyone make of the Burberry show last week? I loved it! After the initial buzz of the evening wore off, I canvassed some fashion industry opinion, and found the reactions to be 50/50 mixed. While Burberry is very much in favour of opening up Fashion Week to the wider public with its shop-the-runway model, in many ways I think you need to be there IRL to feel the full impact of the shows.

This was the case a couple of seasons ago for the Orlando-themed AW16 collection and again for this season’s ‘September 2017’ collection. The show took place in Old Sessions House, an empty shell of many rooms, which Christopher Bailey and Lucy Kumara Moore (of Claire de Rouen books) have taken over with an exhibition of outstanding British photography.

As with all Burberry shows, guests are urged to arrive well before show time. This is to help them relax, enjoy the exhibition and find their seats in good time for the live stream. But it also ensures guests are doing the unpaid job they’re really there to do – social the hell out of the event to help promote it and the brand.

It was lovely getting a preview of the exhibition but it also helped prime us for the collection that was to come. While I was peering at the works on one of the walls (black and white studies of raucous 1980s student balls), the photographer came to introduce himself. It was Dafydd Jones whose work I’ve been enjoying on his Instagram feed. He told me about his favourite image, a gatecrasher in stocks covered in eggs during a Cambridge ball in 1983.

On his Instagram he has been sharing a lot of work from his archive. The 80s work resonates for its nostalgic hedonism as well as the now-exotic 80s toff styling. Elsewhere was work by other British documenters – Janette Beckman, Shirley Baker, Tony Ray-Jones, Peter Marlow and Martin Parr among them.

By show time I was fully immersed in English town-to-country life and the country checks, Harrington jackets, rubber raincoats and gigantic chandelier earrings made perfect sense. Crucially, unlike, say a Gucci show, the styling wasn’t overly camp. Instead, Christopher Bailey encouraged the models to style themselves, so the effect was casually thrown together and very youthful.

BURBERRY Aw17 BONDED COTTON OVERSIZED SEAM-SEALED CAR COAT
Martin Parr
Burberry check harrington jacket aw17

In the exhibition, you’ll see that Gosha Rubchinskiy has shot a series of ‘straight-ups’, using what looks like his skater mates as models. This vibe is carried into the show and onto the Burberry website and ad campaign. It expresses very clearly Christopher Bailey’s intention to capture a cooler, younger crowd. It didn’t hurt to include K-pop stars Mino and Hoony from the boy band Winner in the front row hotseat, an essential ingredient for ensuring Brit street cred stretches across the pond.

Burberry RTW Spring 2018
Martin Parr
Burberry RTW Spring 2018
Burberry AW17 Here We Are exhibition Old Sessions House creative review
Burberry aw17
Peter Marlow
Burberry RTW aw17

Will this approach work? The negative reactions came from those who felt the celebration of ‘chav’ culture (symbolised by the Burberry check caps, last seen on market stalls in 2002) was a huge misstep. But others, (like me) were in favour of this fresh perspective. It’s unexpected but I don’t think it feels desperate. If you weren’t at the show, you might not get the context and storytelling of the collection, especially if you’re just viewing product on an ecommerce page. However, go to Old Sessions House and I’m convinced you’ll be utterly seduced. The exhibition is at Old Sessions House, 22 Clerkenwell Green, London, EC1 until 1st October 2017, so let me know what you think.

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WORDS: Disneyrollergirl/Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGES: Burberry AW17; WWD; Martin Parr/Magnum Photos/Rocket Gallery; Peter Marlow/Magnum Photos
NOTE: Some posts use affiliate links and PR samples. Please read my cookies policy here

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Can Chanel create a fragrance classic with Gabrielle?



Chanelle Gabrielle

Chanel is really going for it with its new fragrance, Gabrielle. Which is not at all surprising, given it’s its first big fragrance launch in 15 years. Reviews so far have been mixed. Some describe it as smelling like a room diffuser from Next (ouch), while others love its fruity-floral effervescence.

While the ad campaign positions it as bold, groundbreaking and dynamic, it’s really not a power scent. To me it’s more of a pleasing ‘feminine’ floral fragrance that’s uncomplicated and easy to wear. There’s certainly nothing about the mandarin, grapefruit and blackcurrant top notes combined with a white floral heart that could possibly offend, especially not the young Asian Chanel customer who adores her clean, light florals.

But I think with all the hoopla and the ultra-sophisticated faceted bottle (designed by Chanel’s head of packaging and graphic design, Sylvie Legastelois  – *Googles her immediately*), the expectation was for something, well, unexpected, different, challenging even.

It’s a big ask to to create an instant classic. And it must be far trickier when you’re Chanel, with the world’s most iconic fragrance under your double-C belt. So perfumer Olivier Polge has had his work cut out, aiming to appease every type of Chanel customer, from the 70-something to the young millennial mademoiselle. And let’s be honest, that’s the customer Chanel needs to capture now.

The Guardian reports that sales of perfume are down between 5 and 10% a year as those pesky millennials shun legacy fragrance brands. I’m not a millennial by age but I am by mindset and right now it’s the cool young niche brands that are capturing my imagination. For the old school brands that’s a hard pill to swallow. For so long they held the power and as with every other creative industry, that power has been diminished in recent years by young disruptors.

Chanel has attempted to capture newer noses before, most recently with Chanel N°5 L’Eau. That was fronted by Lily-Rose Depp and given a lighter, citrus-y twist. For Gabrielle, the masterstroke was getting Kristen Stewart as its face of the fragrance. Her tomboy demeanour but classic features are right for our androgynous moment, yet she scrubs up well. Her fan base is the one Chanel wants to capture, the effortless cool girl who cares about how she presents herself without spending hours contouring her nose. Kristen represents the young Gabrielle Chanel, whose independent spirit it hopes to bottle.

While I quite like this fresh, Chance-y scent, I think a more gender-neutral type of fragrance could have been a bolder success, pinpointing this moment in time while still having the potential to be a future classic. Commercially though, while not necessarily breaking new ground, I don’t think Chanel has anything to worry about. It certainly looks and feels special, luxurious and desirably Chanel.

To help things along, Chanel is amping up the promotion with an experiential concept called Espace Gabrielle Chanel. With typical Chanel-style brand immersion, it has taken over a store at 27 Old Bond Street, W1 to create a discovery world for Chanel aficionados. Open until September 24th, you can enjoy a workshop on Gabrielle Chanel, an ‘olfactory discovery experience’ (book here) and leave with a Gabrielle perfume sample and a special one-off Chanel tote.

WORDS: Disneyrollergirl/Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGE: Not Your Standard
NOTE: Some posts use affiliate links and PR samples. Please read my cookies policy here

CLICK HERE to get Disneyrollergirl blog posts straight to your inbox once a week
CLICK HERE to buy my book The New Garconne: How to be a Modern Gentlewoman

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Buy it now: the Burberry car coat



Burberry car coat - single breasted trench

I would call this a single breasted mac. Burberry is calling it a car coat. Either way, I like it, especially with the looser, more casual styling that Burberry’s gone for here. It’s less high fashion and more girl-on-the-go and this soft ‘tumbled gabardine’ reminds me of all the vintage Burberry macs I used to love before Burberry went posh. (more…)



Shop the post: top up your tan



how to wear tan.

My default summer-into-autumn mode is everything tan. Tan leather especially, mixed with burgundy, camel, red, and a bit of denim. Tan leather bags seems to have taken over from black as the most popular neutral so there’s plenty of choice on that front.

I’ve been surgically attached to my Mulberry Small Maple tote (which now seems to be sold out – I told you to be fast!), but the Mulberry Amberley satchel is the next best thing (more…)