The UK’s reputation in innovation is longstanding, well-founded and diverse – reaching back to the industrial revolution and still going strong.
At New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Costume Institute’s Alexander McQueen – Savage Beauty, celebrates the work of one high profile, provocative, innovative, rule breaker. A Londoner, McQueen learnt his craft on Savile Row, a community of skilled tailors and craftsman based in Mayfair for more than 200 years. He worked with and inspired many of today’s fashion icons including New York aristocracy Lady Gaga. Despite his untimely death, McQueen’s influence and legacy lives on. The design label he founded, now under the leadership of Sarah Burton, maintains an impressive and diverse client list including Michelle Obama and Kim Kardashian. Most famously, the house of McQueen created the most anticipated wedding dress of recent times for the Duchess of Cambridge. McQueen and Burton graduated from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London, a place where generations of internationally renowned artists, designers and performers began their creative journeys. McQueen said that “you have to know the rules to break them. That’s what I’m here for, to demolish the rules but to keep the tradition.” The UK has a rich history in entrepreneurship, dynamism and produces many such characters with an “enquiring spirit”.
The Costume Institute curator, Andrew Bolton created a remarkable sensory experience which captures the mastery of McQueen. One particularly memorable element recreates an episode from the 2006 ready-to-wear collection – the Kate Moss “hologram”, not a hologram at all but an illusory technique called a Pepper’s Ghost.
Peppa of a different kind – Recently Entertainment 1 sealed a deal with Fisher-Price for a range of toys based on the pre-school TV series Peppa Pig. Those of you with 3 year olds need no introduction to the power of Peppa, an amorphous Pig who has adventures, such as jumping in muddy puddles, with family and friends one of whom is Zsa Zsa the Zebra. The show debuted on Nick Jnr in February. The character netted £200m in sales last year, analysts at Cannacord Genuity were backing Peppa to crack the US market which could lead to annual merchandise sales of around £1bn. Companies doing business overseas tend to achieve stronger financial performance, experience longer lifespan for their products and have higher innovation and productivity levels than non-exporters.
No argument that British entrepreneurship is diverse.