As far as refuges from London’s stereotypically-wet weather go, they don’t come much plusher than spending three days above the twinkling Christmas lights of Regent Street in the newly-refurbished Café Royal Hotel. Restored to its former glory, the Café Royal played elegant host to the-miumiu-london – Miu Miu’s fleeting private member’s club. I was amongst the lucky invitees who spent three days calling the-miumiu-london office/hang-out/hideout/meeting room/watering hole/private Resort and SS13 shopping salon, indulging in the visual, comestible, intellectual, and social delights on offer (quite literally – from the last drop of my virgin cocktails to my three-course meal by Margot Henderson to our multiple orders of afternoon tea, all were entirely, mind-bogglingly, complimentary.)
The secrecy with which the launch was guarded was contrasted with the delightful, tongue-in-cheek rule card that accompanied the invitation. We were admonished to do such things as “start a conversation with a stranger”(in London? Impossible!) and, to my personal delight, told that “photography and sharing are strictly encouraged.”
The-miumiu-london’s combination of fashion, food, friends, ideas, and frivolity reinforced the brand’s commitment to multifaceted femininity. On the first evening, Klaarje Quirijns, Bonnie Wright, Felicity Jones, and Caroline Harvery challenged our perceptions of social roles, and their reversal, through film. With an equally-challenging follow-up, The Gentlewoman’s editor-in-chief Penny Martin and Shala Monroque, creative director of Garage Magazine, lead us on an exploration of what constitutes a role model for women, challenging us to confront our assumptions and complacency when it comes to the language we use (i.e., think about loaded term ‘muse.’) On the final evening, Alice Rawsthorn (International Herald Tribune design critic) and Stephen Jones revisited the hat master’s extensive career to-date, and kept us enthralled with both his anecdotes and his incredible charm.
We have demanded more transparent, instant, and innovative ways to interact with brands, through behind-the-scenes footage, livestreams of runway shows, and personal replies to @-mentions on Twitter. While inevitable in the digital age, none of these necessarily bring us closer to a brand. Miu Miu’s foray into the bygone era of the salon highlights the fundamental desire of a customer: to be appreciated.
In fact, on the first evening, I had mentioned to my friend Shala that what the-miumiu-london felt like was the brand embracing us. And you know what? We love you too, Miu Miu.
For more on the-miumiu-london, visit the website here.
All pictures taken with my iPhone 4. See more from inside the-miumiu-london, as well as follow my general visual diary on Instagram.