LONDON — British Vogue is aiming to tap into what it perceives as consumers’ increasing desire for firsthand, live experiences with the first annual Vogue Festival, which takes place April 20 and 21.
The two-day event at London’s Royal Geographical Society is aimed at consumers and will feature speakers from all aspects of the business, including Christopher Bailey, Tom Ford, Stella McCartney, David Bailey, Natalia Vodianova and Marigay McKee of Harrods.
It will also showcase fashion films, trend talks and demonstrations, including one on how to customize wardrobe items for men and women. There will be panel discussions, including one on fashion and age, and a conversation with the British journalist and cookbook author Nigella Lawson about women and food.
Alexandra Shulman, who has been at the helm of British Vogue for 20 years, said she’d been thinking about the festival for a while, and the idea sprang in part from the growing popularity of live performances and talks and peoples’ desire for interactive experiences.
“We have a lively, engaged, glamorous constituency who will be able to hear Diane von Furstenberg talk about her life and times; ask Natalia Vodianova, Lily Cole and Jourdan Dunn what modeling is like, and listen to Rachel Zoe and Livia Firth talk about the red carpet.
“I also wanted to get a sociological element into the program — and look at where fashion intersects with the world we live in,” she said.
Shulman added she hopes the audience will learn something new about the industry, and engage with Vogue in different ways. “It’s about showing what Vogue is, and why it’s different from other titles,” she said. “I’m really proud of what we’ve done so far, and glad so many people have jumped on board.”
One hundred limited edition gold card tickets costing 280 pounds, or $445 at current exchange, went on sale in February in advance of general ticketing and have already sold out. Those tickets include access to all 12 lectures and panel discussions, surrounding activities such as photo shoots and demonstrations, and a British Vogue goodie bag.
Shulman said this year’s festival would not be a major money-spinner. “It’s about trying to get it right, and putting a marker in the sand without worrying too much about the money,” she said. The headline sponsor is Vertu.
Vogue’s festival is one of a flurry of initiatives by editors at the British Condé Nast titles to heighten awareness of their brands.
GQ editor in chief Dylan Jones is chair of the Fashion 2012 men’s wear committee, which is organizing London’s inaugural men’s wear fashion week, together with the British Fashion Council. The event will take place from June 15 to 17. Wired is getting into the consulting business and will be offering a range of services, including trend presentations, full-day and half-day workshops and bespoke projects to various businesses.
“Everyone knows that print publications — even if they are growing — have a finite level of expansion. No one is seeing endless increases,” said Shulman, adding that the festival is not part of a wide, brand-building drive for the title. “You won’t be seeing a million different brand extensions from us,” she stressed.
She’s already mulling the content of future festivals, which she said would likely spotlight fashion’s engagement with art, the theater and literature.