WORKSHOP: CASE STUDY - Fashion Rocks gig nets £1m for trust

Dominic Wood


Background: The Prince's Trust was set up by the Prince of Wales in 1976 with his leaving sum from the Royal Navy. It offers loans and grants to 33,000 young people in the UK each year, to help them overcome barriers to success.

Recipients of the loans and grants have often had little education, might be leaving care or have become homeless. The trust sees itself as a lender that can help as a last resort, and its 7,000 staff and 10,000 volunteers help to raise £50m per year.

Fashion Rocks was an extravaganza that took two years to organise. The show comprised 17 set performances on stage, featuring international music artists such as Beyonce, Robbie Williams, Sharleen Spiteri, Sheryl Crow, Bryan Adams and Bryan Ferry.

In addition to the music, models paraded new outfits made by leading fashion designers. Designers for the event, which was held at the Royal Albert Hall on 15 October 2003 and shown prime time on Channel 4 three days later, included Alexander McQueen, Calvin Klein, Christian Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren, Stella McCartney and Tommy Hilfiger.

Aims: Fashion Rocks fused music and fashion, both important parts of most young people's lives. In doing so, it aimed to engage with the very people who are supported by the charity. The trust hoped to raise £750,000 through corporate sponsorship, private donations, ticket sales, international television rights and advertising revenue during its screenings in 70 countries.

How it worked: The event was conceived by Nicholas Coleridge, chairman of Conde Nast, who was a prominent member of the trust's fashion steering committee.

The actor Richard Gere made a surprise appearance, as well as Duncan from pop band Blue, who is a trust ambassador. Dennis Leary co-presented the show with actress Liz Hurley, who wore 17 different designer outfits during the event.

A selection of young people also attended the event to explain to celebrities what the trust does. These included Rosie Carpenter (above left) who was homeless when the trust gave her a loan to start a design business.

Results: The event raised £1m, outstripping its £750,000 target by 25 per cent. Private donations made up 10 per cent of that total. But, at £40 or more per ticket, admission to the show accounted for the highest proportion of revenue at 40 per cent. This was followed by 22 per cent from UK and international TV rights.

Carol Homden, commercial director, said: "We're delighted at the success of Fashion Rocks, particularly as it exceeded our fundraising expectations. £1m is a terrific amount of money to raise from one event and will greatly help our work with young people." Organisers have confirmed there are plans to repeat the show.

Fashion Rocks secured corporate sponsorship from mobile phone company Xelibri, the Diamond Trading Company and Conde Nast. E4, Channel 4 and Heat magazine were its media partners.

In response to criticism in the Daily Mail that the event could have raised more had Hurley auctioned off the dresses for the trust instead of taking them home, Homden said the designers had made them for the star, not the trust. "Different ambassadors have different ways of helping," she added. "And Liz Hurley looked absolutely stunning in every one of those dresses."

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