Vogue Festival 2012

It was at 11am on a perfectly mundane Tuesday morning that I spotted the first advert for the first ever Vogue Festival. Of the hundred gold tickets up for sale, one week before general release tickets, I bought the second.

However, it was at 9am on a perfectly sunny Friday morning that I had a street style Vogue photographer taking my photograph for the British Vogue website outside the venue entrance. Awaiting me inside was two days of leading designers, writers, models and stylists, waiting to talk about some of the most progressive work in the fashion industry. Hosted by British Vogue editor-in-chief Alexandra Shulman, this was every fashionista’s dream. Although one article is not enough to do it justice, presented below are some of the highlights of this incredible event.

Christopher Bailey, the artesian responsible for the resurrection of British label Burberry, opened the festival. In conversation with Alexandra Shulman, Bailey stressed his despair in how the label “was a diamond trodden into the dust” and his determination to revive the label. His passion for his work was hard to miss, as he endlessly praised the iconic image that Burberry sought to establish. In accordance with its 155 year long history, Bailey displayed a real understanding of how such a house “needs a beating heart” to sustain such a heritage. His aim? “Building a strong infrastructure to gain trust and a good environment”.

Bailey wanted to start from the beginning; strip away the layers of debris the label had been subjected to and re-lay the foundations, in the hope that this will empower people. Considering the glowing results, Bailey’s extensive surgery on Burberry can be considered a triumph. Now that it is established back into the heart of British fashion, Bailey is free to take the label forward with his creative vision, merging his love of creativity with the new digital age.

The designer places emphasis on an organic process of a product’s development, taking inspiration from the home country itself and his very own “memory box”. With a cheeky smile he admitted to finding a huge amount of inspiration in the “poetry” of British weather. Considering the torrential rain that had been plighting London a few days before the festival, there’s no doubt that Bailey was harbouring a series of designs that would embody his talent.

Finding a seat for Dolce & Gabbna’s appearance was almost impossible. The dynamic duo brought a real sense of emotion to their talk, breaking up their latest campaign into three sections of inspiration; ‘Amore’, ‘Familia’ & ‘Italianitia’– translated, Love, Family & Italy – in three short films. Their latest campaign is significantly different from others, employing models of all ages and both genders, dressed and posing as a family in typical chaotic Italian fashion, producing some exceptional results, especially this summer. “Starting a collection is much like a movie; we make a movie in our mind and the clothes are the result” Gabbana explains.

What was most touching was the discussion of their working relationship.  Frequently questioned on their ability to work as a team, considering that they are ex-lovers, the mutual appreciation for their work is the driving force behind the label. Dominico Dolce notes how “he [Stefano Gabanna] was once my lover and now I love him like a brother. We are family and we are both so lucky to work with family”. Considering the ying-and-yang attributes of their relationship, there is a new level of understanding in their relationship; of each other and of their shared creative vision.

The full feminine force of Diane Von Furstenburg also attracted the crowds. Hailed to have “the best legs in the industry” by Shulman herself, Furstenburg could have talked for days. Frankly, most of us would have been willing to listen for days too. Apart from explain the rise, fall and resurrection of her label, Furstenberg shared some of her most cherished and entertaining moment of her life. When meeting with bankers, to which her label owed thousands of pounds to from their recent expansion, “I thought I could seduce them; unfortunately not”.

Her flippant regard towards some of the most serious decisions in her life was inspiring. Even though she accidentally fell pregnant, potentially calling her career to a halt, “I calmed down about the idea of getting married after about half an hour” and got on with her life, juggling her career and motherhood as if both responsibilities were made to be compatible. It’s easy to understand why Furstenburg is so highly regarded in the industry. Apart from her daring work with colours, it is ironically her risk with minimalistic dresses that brought her success. “I knew the kind of woman I wanted to be; independent, pay my bills and be free”.

The iconic wrap dress, thin, light and delicate on the body stood out a mile amongst an age of aesthetic extravagance. Much like the designer herself, her quest to be free both in and out of the industry has seen her set new standards and conveyed a new sense of respect for the female form – something that is always in style.

Whilst most events of this kind are a collection of popular figures, the Vogue Festival hosted a precious, intimate quality. Although talks also covered more serious issues in fashion, both political and social detailed insights, the question sessions with Vogue editors and fashion directors made them eager and willing to share their knowledge of breaking into the industry. Indeed, Shulman said herself that she aimed to “share the Vogue experience with a ticket-buying consumer”. But this did so much more; it invited the reader to be a part of the experience, conversing with their idols and sharing their inspiration, without exclusivity or the snobbish attitude expected from others. Writer, stylist and student alike; for two days, we closed the fashion Bible and were invited to be a member of the Vogue family.

Rosie Feenstra


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