Welcome back to The Lightbulb. For this issue, we spoke to the inimitable Caroline Rush, Chief Executive of the British Fashion Council. She has 20 years of experience in Marketing and PR across both consumer and corporate communications in fashion, music and lifestyle. For a span of five years, she skilfully helmed her own business, overseeing critical aspects such as strategic communications and efficiently managing the complete press office operations for the prestigious British Fashion Council.
Since her appointment as Chief Executive in April 2009, Burberry, Jonathan Saunders, Matthew Williamson, Mulberry, Preen and Pringle of Scotland have returned to show their collections at London Fashion Week. Caroline has expanded the LONDON show ROOMS and Style Suites, taking British designers to new markets including Hong Kong, Los Angeles, New York, Paris and Sao Paolo. She was charged with curating the 2009 25th anniversary legacy project for the British Fashion Council, which included launching the BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund and the BFC Fashion Arts Foundation.
Last week, Caroline announced the Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design, which was presented to LABRUM London (Foday Dumbuya) by none other than His Majesty The King Charles III. During this event, Caroline also announced the incredible impact of the BFC, which remitted £1.2m in funds to designers and scholars via its charity, the BFC Foundation, in the financial year 2022/2023.
Caroline has also undergone intensive preparations for the year-long celebration of the 30th anniversary of the showcasing initiative, BFC NEWGEN. BFC NEWGEN 30 celebrations include a landmark exhibition at the Design Museum, titled, REBEL: 30 Years of London Fashion. The exhibition is sponsored by Alexander McQueen, guest curated by Sarah Mower MBE, BFC Ambassador for Emerging Talent and Rebecca Lewin, Design Museum Senior Curator, and will run from 15 September 2023 to 11 February 2024. Keep your eyes peeled for tickets, which go on sale in June 2023.
Caroline Rush, The King and Foday Dumbuya (Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design recipient)
WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST LIGHTBULB MOMENT IN YOUR CAREER TO DATE?
It really is too difficult to pinpoint one - there are too many! No day is the same and my job can be quite varied so I am constantly learning and evolving. I find that every day is a school day and there are lightbulb moments scattered throughout. My role at the BFC has afforded me many rewarding and exciting experiences.
I recently heard an expression which resonated with me deeply: "A great experience is a sequence of small actions executed excellently".
Richard Quinn show, LFW February 2018
WHERE DO YOU LOOK FOR INSPIRATION?
There isn’t one place, but nature is always a source of inspiration for me. While my role is exceptionally rewarding, it involves long days and managing many different priorities, so it’s important for me to step away every now and then to clear my mind.
Spending time outdoors is essential, going for a walk with my dog Ruby is a critical part of my day (and best way to start the day). After spending time in nature, I get more clarity, feel like there is less ‘noise’ and am often flooded with creative solutions to things that have kept me awake the night before.
Vogue Designer Fashion Fund Cocktail Party, May 2022 & LFW Opening Party at the Windmill Soho, September 2021
WHAT'S YOUR WEIRDEST OBSESSION?
I am SoulCycle obsessed but only in NY. Don’t get me wrong I love SoulCyle in London, but do I make it an essential to my every day – no. However, there is something about the energy in the NYC classes that's so addictive - the music, the intensity, the feeling of pushing yourself to your limit. It's definitely not for everyone, even though I try to drag whoever is travelling with me to get the bug.
If you asked my daughter what my weirdest obsession is, she would say my dog Ruby for sure. When she was a puppy I used to tell people how old she was in months like a baby and she hasn't let me live it down!
So, how old is she – 3 years and 5 months!
The BFC Foundation Impact Announcement
WHAT'S ONE PIECE OF ADVICE YOU LIVE BY?
If your heart is in something, leave no stone unturned and spare no effort. Give it your all!
WHAT DO YOU THINK THE KEY TO UNDERSTANDING PEOPLE IS?
Personally, I've found that one of the most important things is to stand in somebody else’s shoes and try as best you can to see the world from their perspective. I’ve learned that you need to listen to someone’s point of view and be curious, open-minded, and compassionate. Over the years, I have had the absolute privilege of meeting people from all over the world who have had very different life experiences.
Every single person has something unique to offer and there is always something to learn.
BFC/GQ Designer Menswear Fund Judging Day, 2022 & BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund Mentoring day with Paul Smith, 2022
Caroline’s stewardship has kept British Fashion at the forefront, and we’re incredibly excited to see the rising stars that grow through the BFCs support over the next few years.
Join us next month as we interview British stage and screen actress and writer Anjli Mohindra, best known for her pivotal role as Nadia in the BAFTA & Golden Globe winning BBC drama, BodyGuard.