Why are designers holding free Exhibitions?

“Brands have now realised that opening their doors more publicly doesn’t devalue the brand’s heritage.”

Louis Vuitton Series 3 and Chanel’s Mademoiselle Prive have to be two of the most recent extraordinary and exciting exhibitions I’ve ever attended in London. This comes after a wave of other free exhibitions in London with another notable one I attended being Wonderland by Hérmes at Saatchi.

With the continual obsession and rise with Social Media, perhaps brands – especially more prestigious brands –  that were at first reluctant to get involved in the online rat race have now realised that opening their doors more publicly doesn’t devalue the brand’s heritage. In fact, it potentially could be a great marketing tool to increase brands profit.

If Balmain x H&M’s sell out collection is anything to go on, then this suggests that opening up the doors of a prestige house to the high street (public) does reap in an incredible amount of profit and brand awareness. In fact, most brands that have collaborated with H&M have reported an increase in their own brands profits after the release of their collab. Showing just how important this creation of excitement and public ecstatic fury can be for a brand.

Chanel’s Mademoiselle Prive only showed at the Saatchi for 2 weeks, creating immediate public hysteria in people frantically trying to free space in their diary so they can attend the free event before it’s gone forever. On the Saturday I went, the queue’s trail went out of the courtyard and finished round the corner to Pret on Kings Road (handy for those wanting to grab a coffee and avocado wrap while they wait). You were looking at an hour and a half wait… but I admit that it most certainly was worth the wait.

Already brands are embracing social media and technology as a means of opening up their shows to the public online, which were once only viewed by the eyes of the media. Most recently Burberry live streaming their show on Snapchat whilst managing to maintain an air of exclusivity with its sense of spectacle and showmanship that continuously makes Burberry one to watch.

In fact, Chanel had created their own app especially for the event which provided you with extra exclusive content, working with location services to determine which room in the gallery you were in, in order and access to your camera so you could move your phone around the room to read extra information on your phone (watch the linked video for the full effect). Making the event interactive and quite obviously, not a cheap do.

Both the rooms in Louis Vuitton and Chanel created a dream like atmosphere as you passed through each carefully staged room. Despite the experience enabling you to feel closer to the brand, there was still an air of wonder and excitement created as you marvelled at the brands creative genius and craftsmanship. (If you can’t afford the LV bag then at least you can have a free sticker of the bag you desired for your notebook). Perhaps this is what enabled this air of exclusivity to still remain? In that the brands made sure to focus their exhibition on the skill of craftsmanship and creativity that the designer gives to the company. At Louis Vuitton you could watch real live craftsman from the designer’s atelier hand working to create the mini trunk case bag.
Bruno Pavlovsky (Chanel’s President of Fashion) said “We want to offer something that only Chanel can offer; and that’s showing the creativity and the craftsmanship behind the scenes.”

Personally, I think it’s fantastic that these brands are opening their doors and letting in a wider audience to view their work who might otherwise feel too intimidated to visit their flagship store. The welcome into all exhibitions felt warm and inviting, further adding to the magical atmosphere that was created and enabling me and the many others to feel a true appreciation and admiration towards the brand. I think the success that surrounded the recent brands will be reflective of many more that we should expect in the near future. And whether a marketing strategy or a genuine open door invitation, or perhaps both, I think the designer houses truly deserve all their praises and success in managing to both fluently and providing a spectacular show that will always be remembered and was a privilege to be able to attend.
 

Chanel Mademoiselle Prive at Saatchi Gallery

Chanel Mademoiselle Prive at Saatchi Gallery

Louis Vuitton Series 3  

Louis Vuitton Series 3  

Chanel Mademoiselle Prive Exhibition at Saatchi

Chanel Mademoiselle Prive Exhibition at Saatchi

Louis Vuitton Series 3  

Louis Vuitton Series 3  

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