A CLOUDY DAY IN LONDON TOWN: Anya Hindmarch loves putting on a wacky show. Past ones have featured spinning teacup rides or handbags singing show tunes while the latest is an immersive, Instagram-able presentation for the press and the public with big, fat bean bags shaped like clouds, a live choral concert and lots of meditative moments.
The installation, Chubby Cloud by Anya Hindmarch, is a three-day event that’s taking place at Banqueting House, the neo-classical gem designed by Inigo Jones. The great hall has a vast Peter Paul Rubens on the ceiling and once Saturday morning’s giddy guests had jumped, vaulted and flopped down on the big white bean bag that nearly took up the room, they could view that painting like never before.
On Saturday, a BBC presenter invited guests to relax on the cloud while he read “The Shipping Forecast,” a regular radio weather report for the seas around the U.K. (many British people find this both informative and soothing) as Hindmarch spoke briefly about the virtues of taking a break. The accessories designer has booked a lineup of ticketed talks, meditations, music and bedtime stories over the three-day period.
The event is part of a strategy that Hindmarch announced last December of swapping her seasonal product presentations for consumer-facing, more immersive events as she switches to a see-now, buy-now model. Last February during London Fashion Week, Hindmarch filled the London skies with chubby hearts which flew from landmarks such as Battersea Power Station and Chelsea Barracks in Knightsbridge.
“It’s the idea of engaging with people not in a traditional format. I wanted to just talk to our customers and make this inclusive,” Hindmarch said after Saturday morning’s session.
“You see how people behave when they sink into the Chubby Cloud – it’s quite natural – and I wanted to do something where they could come and be playful. And you’re quite porous when you’re lying there, so you are open to the art and you’re open to listening – and hopefully open to knowing more about us.”
Downstairs near the entrance, Hindmarch is also operating a café with novelty pastries such as rainbow doughnuts and cupcakes with cloud-shaped icing. She also has a small shop with limited-edition Chubby Cloud merchandise, and the Chubby bags and accessories that have just dropped in her stores. She said sales on Friday at the tiny pop-up rivaled those at her store at 118 New Bond Street.
London’s fashion brands have been moving quickly to include consumers during the fashion weeks – and the rest of the year. Victoria Beckham, who is showing in London for the first time to mark her 10thanniversary, is staging a number of consumer-facing events, and will be live-streaming her show on Sunday morning in Piccadilly Circus. Burberry, meanwhile, has planned a series of 24-hour product releases available on Instagram and WeChat around designer Riccardo Tisci’s debut runway show for the brand, which takes place on September 17.