Britain came to L.A. Thursday night, when Burberry hosted an epic bash and runway show at the Griffith Observatory in the shadow of the Hollywood sign, with David, Victoria, Brooklyn, Romeo, Cruz and Harper Beckham, Elton John, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Cara Delevingne, Jason Statham, January Jones and Anna Wintour among the 700 guests.
The British luxury brand and its chief creative and executive officer, Christopher Bailey, pulled out all the stops, from the majestic U.S. and British flags waving overhead as guests approached the parking lot, to the specially made Georgian-style wrought iron gates at the entrance, featuring the observatory in silhouette. A runway show tent was erected in front of the observatory for the occasion, and placed at each seat was a checked Burberry scarf with the specific guest’s monogrammed initials.
The evening began with sunset cocktails (and photo ops) in a lavender- and rose-filled garden (Pimms cups and peekytoe crab on cucumber, naturally.)
The runway show featured an encore presentation of Burberry’s fall 2015 collection, which premiered in London in February, modeled by some of the biggest names in the business, including Jourdan Dunn and the show-stopping supermodel and “Empire” diva Naomi Campbell, who shut it down in a swinging fringe poncho.
The collection, inspired by traditional English Durham quilts crossed with Marc Bolan-era glam rock, was very L.A., with 1970s-like peasant dresses that were patchworks of paisley, lace, embroidered mirrors and animal pattern; ponchos and suede trench coats swinging fringe. Super-stylist Rachel Zoe, who was already wearing one of the designs Thursday night, said, “This dress makes me feel at home.”
The show closed with a collection of only-in-L.A. exclusive eveningwear -- floor length, floral tulle dresses with a boho Bloomsbury feel, and velvet tuxedos for the men. (The collection will be available starting Friday at Burberry’s Rodeo Drive store.)
One of my favorite parts of the evening, because I was seated directly across from them, was Elton John’s running commentary to David Furnish as some of the wilder men’s looks came out, including trousers embroidered all over with tiny mirrors. I imagined him saying to his spouse, “Worn that! Worn it all!”
Another favorite was seeing David Beckham cuddle his adorable, impeccably behaved daughter Harper, 3, on his lap. The chic tot was wearing a tiny Burberry trench dress.
British music acts George Ezra, Tom Odell, Clare Maguire and Benjamin Clementine performed live tracks during the show, against a wood cutout of the London skyline.
The runway extravaganza concluded not with Bailey walking the runway, but with James Corden, the new host of “The Late, Late Show,” hamming it up for the crowd and beckoning them outside.
But it wasn’t over yet. As the show ended, the First Battalion Grenadier Guards (you know, the guys with the furry hats in front of Buckingham Palace -- they were flown in from London for the occasion) led models and guests outside as the end of the runway opened to the outdoors, revealing the Griffith Observatory facade, lit up with giant digital projections of British and U.S. flags.
“Griffith Observatory for me is this iconic building on top of a hill where James Dean came, so the idea that we could come to this site and have a little piece of London here was a dream -- and overlooking the whole of Los Angeles,” said Bailey, adding that he was determined to take a selfie with the James Dean statue outside the observatory before he left.
“We have arrived! L.A. has arrived,” said Gela Nash Taylor, half of the design duo formerly behind Juicy Couture and currently with new label Pam & Gela, as she posed for photos with the Grenadier Guards with her hubbie, Duran Duran’s John Taylor.
The party continued afterward with models and celebrity guests sipping champagne and everyone posing for photos with the guards, who proved to be the belles of the ball.
“Christopher called me two nights ago and asked if I would do something fun,” Corden said, admitting that it was his first runway turn. “We did a whole skit backstage that will be on my show on Monday night.”
John Boyega, the young British star of the upcoming “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” was coming off a great day, a high-profile panel and expo in Anaheim about the new film that dominated social media.
“It was just like any other day, really,” Boyega deadpanned. When asked about the film, he said, “They brainwashed us. The only thing I know is that we finished the film -- and the Burberry show was good.”
Although Mayor Eric Garcetti was not in attendance, Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LaBonge was at the event. “Isn’t this wonderful,” he said, looking at the stars in the sky and those strolling in front of him. “And the thing is, [Burberry] is donating a half-million dollars to the Griffith Observatory education fund over the next two years.”
A high point in Anglo-Angeleno relations for sure.