As all eyes in the world of fashion fall upon Burberry to see their latest London Fashion Week presentation at 5pm today, I’m reminded of the hugely important role music plays in the shows… and the fun I have had as a fashion show music supervisor.
Whether Chief Creative Officer, Riccardo Tisci opts for a live performance from a singer such as Dua Lipa or Rosalía, a pre-recorded composition from a long-time favourite such as Björk or a DJ set by another recent collaborator such as Peggy Gou, the music he selects will enormously impact the feeling around the collection of those lucky enough to have been invited into the room or watching on the live stream and will set the mood for the collection and his new season of the brand.
A music supervisor for a fashion show has a significantly different role to play to a supervisor selecting music for ‘synced’ content (such as a 30-second TV ad), as the music works to reflect the spirit of the collection and the brand at that moment in time whilst carrying a 10-20 minute show. A great music curator will use a range of timed dynamics to build through the chapters of the show, revealing a series of powerful and varied musical moments that lead towards the all-important crescendo of the show, the finale when everything comes together in a memorable (and generally very Instragramable!) melee, in either perfect harmony or a created discordance, to make sense of what has just happened and leave viewers excited for the season ahead.
It works best when all departments collaborate and it is a beautiful thing when the music supervisor works perfectly in tandem with the creative director, the event producers and show callers, timing the music to the lighting cues and every twist or turn in the show
Former Burberry CCO, Christopher Bailey and the brilliant team he hand-picked around him, taught me much about the role music plays in framing a fashion show and how to create something really special using a range of sounds, dynamics and surprises to invigorate the audiences and beautifully frame his clothing collections. Many of the musicians I partnered with to deliver such soundtracks found themselves unlearning what feels natural for a song, in order to suit the environment of a fashion show. In a fashion show, the bowing of a string instrument can never be too fast or frenetic and there is little room for ‘less is more’, only ‘more is more’. Seeing these musicians consistently deliver these amazing soundtracks has been a highlight of my career to date.
So, I look forward to sitting back and enjoying what will no doubt be a wonderful moment celebrating newness in fashion, culture and music this afternoon. And if you want to hear more music that has soundtracked London Fashion Week shows, I’ve pulled together a playlist of tracks including many written, designed, performed and recorded for Burberry shows that I worked on – I hope you enjoy it!