NEW YORK — “Please wait for the train. It’s all about the train,” Anna Wintour said in vain Wednesday afternoon as photographers shot a cadre of British fashion types on a subway platform at Grand Central Terminal.
This story first appeared in the February 16, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The train in question was wrapped in the Union Jack to help launch the Great campaign, a marketing effort championed by Sir Peter Westmacott, Britain’s ambassador to the U.S. Despite promises that the train would be coming back, it never did (so it goes sometimes in New York). No matter, Victoria Beckham was the one the flashbulb poppers were after, calling out her name incessantly.
Beckham will serve as an ambassador for the Great campaign, which will target nine countries and 14 key cities. Beckham appealed to British officials partially due to “the tremendous start” her fashion label is having, Westmacott told WWD. Run in partnership with Simon Fuller, Beckham’s label is available in more than 300 stores worldwide and generates $47 million in retail sales annually. Some of her other fellow Brits lent their support, including Keren Craig, Georgina Chapman, Tamara Mellon, Marcus Wainwright, Jourdan Dunn and Karen Elson.
As soon as the photo op was finished, the designers scattered but Wintour stayed back to proof Patrick Demarchelier’s official photo. “Ambassador, would you like to see the photos?” she asked while he fielded questions from a reporter.
Westmacott said Great Britain is a place where it is “quite easy to set up business, with the lowest levels of taxes of any of the G7 economies,” and government officials just launched a program that helps new companies get tax breaks and other incentives. “We have a versatile economy that is open for business. We are determined to get back after the last few years, particularly the fall of 2008 when the financial services took a hit,” he said.