April Fool's, Phantom of the Opera & Handbags

Released On 1st Apr 2017

Happy April Fool’s Day 

Well so far, in the workshop, we’ve had potato trees – genetically modified pick your own.
Dracula type burial (lead coffin & body) being uncovered in the peat down on Sharpham Moor.
And Prince Charles leading our troops into Syria in a tank named “Camilla”.

Three good ones, can you guess which one was mine? – it was the body unearthed by peat excavation – yes, I must agree, the cleverest! – local, possible and only as the story becomes more fanciful does the listener become more sceptical.  

The team wholly accepted the silver bullet, the black cloak, a coffin buried deep in the peat hundreds of years ago, to stop the hideous creature escaping – I still had ‘em! 

But as you do, I pushed it too far and said that the “Time Team” had been called from Bristol to analyse the fangs, somebody thought they were from a Morrison’s Christmas Cracker and that’s when the penny dropped!

We know stories/fables/parables, it’s how we learnt as kids, I think even more as adults we still love a good tale especially with a twist, a punch line, scandal, smile or lesson, we love to be engulfed and taken away with the story.

That’s why I can’t understand how one of the longest running West End Musicals is still going!

Last Saturday, Brett and I went to the theatre in London, a birthday present for Brett (from Mack, my son) – we went to see a musical that Brett has been wanting to see all his adult life.

After sitting thru the performance, I questioned how it could still be pulling sell out audiences after 30 months let alone 30 years!! – It was no page turner, there was NO story whatsoever, I had no empathy with the characters!  I was bored out of my brain.  

Deformed man escapes the circus, hides in the catacombs below the opera, falls in love with a chorus girl, teaches her to sing, terrorises the company to make her prima, captures her, lets her go and then disappears.

That took two hours, and did not stimulate me, intrigue me, entertain me, or educate me – YAWN.

Was it just me? am I, a hard to please audience?  NO -  I would say it was a 50:50 split as I looked around, a fair number my neighbours were not entranced and certainly as the curtains came down the applause was not deafening – I have encountered far more enthusiastic encores at our local theatre – recently Oliver brought the house down and I have great hopes for Guys and Dolls next month! 

So why the sell out??  Well 30 years ago, it was the first of its kind, the spectacle must have been sensational, and that’s when it grabbed its audience by the throat and has been milking them ever since.
But things move on and the show hasn’t been updated, even the scenery and props still appear to be exactly those used for Sarah Brightman and Michael Crawford.

It is living on past glories and I suppose it has become an institution.

But I think there is a lesson to be learnt.

I would caution anybody about buying a brand, just because it was great in the past, doesn’t necessarily mean it is still great and fit for purpose now.

The same is true of fashion brands, I can think of some handbag names especially, that are still living on past winners, but when you analyse those “must have” styles, they are heavy, cumbersome, unpractical and boring, stuck in the past  – potentially they are Phantom’s that need knocking on the head.

At Owen Barry, we launch two collections a year, presently Eliza, Chas and I are just pulling together the final pieces for our Autumn Winter 17 range launching 1st May – we are VERY excited by it.

But, if nothing else,  last weekend has taught me to be ruthless with our editing – classics are good, but be sure to offer your audience something new to stimulate and excite that’s how the new classics are born.

Co-incidentally April 1st 1883 was Lon Chaney’s Birthday – now that is a Phantom of the Opera to stand the test of time - still very scary.  
The DUDLEY - an OB Classic, shown here in beautiful Rosa Leather