Music, fashion, beauty and Cara Delevingne in flight made for a glittering show by Burberry in Shanghai - Emma Hill relives it
It was a moment I'll never forget. Cara gliding slowly, elegantly through the air over 1500 astonished guests. It was the culmination of an incredible show, held by Burberry in Shanghai to celebrate the opening of their new flagship store and to present to China's great and good a bespoke version of the A/W show.
Earlier that day Christopher Bailey, Burberry’s Chief Creative and Chief Executive Officer, had told me they’d been planning it very excitedly. And that it was to be a celebration ‘of all we love’ - technology, fashion, beauty, music and art. The moment Cara walked the red carpet in THAT SKIRT before the start of the show, set the pace - the roar from the crowd was huge. The prize for the biggest entourage went to actresses, Angelababy and Vicky Zhao, who are stars in China and Hong Kong. 'The crowd dispersed like a parting sea as they arrived!' said one onlooker.
The show was held in a venue at the old ship yard, on the banks of the Huangpu River. Team Burberry had created a cinematic set within a theatre style auditorium that spanned the length and either end of the venue. And the show itself was divided into chapters – chapter 6 was a visual beauty fest. But first we were taken on a cinematic trip through the history of the Burberry trench. We saw archive photos of Shackleton, ads from the 50s, ads from the 60s, close up shots of trench details (its signature buttons, collar and cuffs). We tripped through the decades from the first Burberry trenches right through to the present day.
Then curtains rose to reveal the vast backdrop of a row of a smart London terraced street (think Kensington or Belgravia - I later discovered it was Regent Street). To the left of the stage was Burberry darling, the musician George Ezra whose music was last used at the AW14 show in London. He sang Did You Hear The Rain? playing his Gretsch guitar. It was beautiful and soulful.
Model Matilda Lowther (she is in the Burberry SS14 campaign) moved centre stage, and we were transfixed. As she stood, serene and beautiful, images of rain, falling leaves, even the painted-on designs from the AW14 show were projected onto her trench.
The beauty theme (see the video above, shown for the first time by Get The Gloss) began as the image of Burberry model, Li Ann, with her lips painted red (Burberry, of course) was projected either end of the auditorium. She blotted her lips with a tissue and blew kisses, (Burberry Kisses) . It was a cute moment - the audience loved it. And then makeup, like fireworks, created an exploding cinematic sequence. All against the Regent Street backdrop (silhouettes of women applying makeup in each window was an adorable detail).
Next came the AW14 show, inspired by the Bloomsbury group. As Christopher Bailey has said, all the colours came from the house of Charleston. As you’ll know Charleston is the house where the Bloomsbury group lived and worked – and the artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant painted pieces of furniture. That's where the idea for the hand-painted sheepskin coats came from. This quintessentially English set (supremely eccentric too) also inspired the soft, earthy, pastel palette to both the clothes and the makeup for AW14 (available August), which I first saw in London back in February.
Earlier that day, makeup artist Wendy Rowe, Burberry Beauty Artistic Consultant had talked me through the look, creating it on Matilda Lowther, only to later recreate it with her team backstage for the show. What I loved about the look was the softness to the eyes (no harsh black liner or mascara was a refreshing change to the present status quo) and how easy it was to do. Soft smoked aubergine eyeshadow smudged over the eye - 'messy is fine' said Rowe. Joy! But a caveat - blend at the edges. This is about easy makeup that doesn’t require heaps of brushes or endless layers of products
You could have guessed who'd hit the runway first. The audience went crazy as Cara moved with her own special kind of attitude to the sound of Ed Harcourt on the baby grand piano alongside. His song, You Can’t Stop The Rain was written for the show. Burberry models followed - Matilda, Malaika Firth, Qin Shu Pei and Suki Waterhouse (the face of their latest scent, the flowers-and-lavender, Brit Rhythm).
Suki and I had a whistle stop chat some time after the show. 'Normally I am really nervous before a show, we rehearsed so much that this time I felt so much calmer,' she said. 'I loved how the audience reacted, you could hear the whoops,' she added with an infectious smile.
Burberry had also flown in Paloma Faith. She sang Only Love Can Hurt Like This, live, accompanied by Harcourt on the grand piano, 'Bloomsbury girls’ and guys gliding by. It was like an incredible moving sea of to-die-for clothes set to her heartrending song just for us.
And then came the finale. Cara gliding through the air like Mary Poppins. Do I admit the truth? Oh go on. I shed a tear - laughed a lot too - but shed a real live, small little, er, ‘Burberry’ tear.