>> Last night, if you're a Twitter follower you would have seen myself and seemingly THE WHOLE WORLD tweeting commentary alongside the Olympics Closing Ceremony in London, with the general consensus being that it wasn't a patch on (Sir) Danny Boyle's Opening Ceremony. LOL-est tweets of the night came courtesy of @ChristopherShannon @WilliamOliver and @WillBroome. With a preceding digital montage of David Bowie and a few sneaky twit pics courtesy of PR mogul Daniel Marks from TCS, I was getting mighty MIGHTY excited over the imminent appearance of all the supers strutting in British designers as featured in British Vogue's Olympics-themed shoot in the current September issue (which in turn made it a HUGE coup for Vogue). The representation of British Fashion at an event that has an audience of circa one billion people worldwide is the sort of priceless publicity that can't be underestimated. To the inevitable soundtrack of David Bowie's Fashion, trucks adorned with Nick Knight's imagery of the models came trooping out and once the billboards were torn down, they revealed Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell (both in Alexander McQueen), Stella Tennant (in Christopher Kane), Georgia May Jagger (in Victoria Beckham) Lily Cole (in Erdem), Jourdan Dunn (in Jonathan Saunders and Stephen Jones), David Gandy (in Paul Smith), Lily Donaldson (in Vivienne Westwood and Karen Elson (in Burberry) who then proceeded to strut down towards the centre of the Union Jack formation in the Olympic Stadium. The gesture was impressive but was the message properly conveyed? Business of Fashion wasn't sure. Imran Amed tweeted "OK, has to be asked. That was a representation of British Fashion on global stage, in front of 300 million people? #missedopportunity" Christopher Shannon didn't beat around the bush: "That 'fashion' bit was crinnnngeeeeeee #closingceremonies" I said, perhaps in Tweeting haste "Saying it in small voice in case people pelt me with apples but fashion segment felt vaguely *hollow* ?"
Upon reflection, I'll probably need to adjust that tweet. It definitely wasn't hollow for the designers involved. That stage for designers like Erdem, Christopher Kane, Jonathan Saunders and to a lesser extent for Burberry, Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen was immense, without parallel and completely justified. If the Closing Ceremony was going to be a celebration of British culture and what it has to offer the world, then fashion quite rightly should have its spotlight. Whether having supermodels strutting to a David Bowie track in a bizarrely staid and slightly old-fashioned catwalk set-up with clothing credits read over the loudspeaker was the best format to celebrate British fashion, remains a question mark for me. The segment seemed to be stuck in a generic timewarped view of fashion that didn't seem to connect with what's actually going on in fashion today. Oh, strutty models. Oh, strike a fierce pose at end of catwalk. Oh, credits read out loud in manner of a catwalk show at The Clothes Show at NEC Birmingham. In any case some of the fashion namechecks were completely lost on the British audience at home anyway seeing as the BBC lowered the sound when they read out "Burberry", "Jonathan Saunders" etc in accordance with the broadcasting corporation's zero-branding policy. Not sure if international audiences got a better hearing. Hadley Freeman of The Guardian has also questioned the appearance of models after two weeks of celebrating female athletes that embody the polar opposite of the figures a la Kate, Naomi and Co. That's probably an even more potent counter-argument considering how inspired I, along with practically every Londoner I know, have been over the athletes' achievement and sheer tenacity.
This isn't an outright dirge. It was a difficult feat for the British Fashion Council to pull off a feat like this, fighting to even have fashion represented on an already packed schedule of acts and choreography. Marks, director of London PR company The Communications Store, who I think was the primary orchestrator of this segment in the show said on Twitter "What an amazing night. Fashion well represented. Nearly didn't happen at all. A story for another time. Two years of hard work to make that happen. Celebrate it!"
Therefore, on a final note let's not dwell on format and celebrate the FASHION. My favourite looks were definitely Christopher Kane's Ziggy Stardust-esque chainmail graphic suit and Jonathan Saunders golden panelled white dress, complemented by Stephen Jones' headdress. Chainmail in Kane's A/W 12-3 collectionw as the backdrop to all that awesome plastic thread embroidery and in another so-wrong-it's-right moment, shined a refreshed spotlight on this often questionable material. Let's also think about whether a show like that will indeed see any sort of positive uplift on those brands featured, not necessarily in direct sales (that would be ambitious) but in Google searches and people merely enquiring about these designers or their names sticking when people come and visit London in the tourism and retail uplift that the organisers and government hope for as a positive upshot of hosting the Games. That's the sort of gold that can't be weighed and counted just yet.