The Rich & The Beautiful – When Reputation Rules Don’t Apply

The idea that there are people who think the rules don’t apply to them strikes deeply at people’s sense of fairness in the best of times. In the middle of a pandemic, does the action of a celebrity individual or organisation that seems to prove that there is ‘one rule for the rich, another for the rest of us’, actively damage their reputation? Or do people just roll their eyes in resigned acceptance and carry on? An issue we have covered in our media training sessions.

So to this week’s allegations against – and the response of – private members club, Soho House; the world-famous (and nigh-impossible to enter if an ordinary soul) Berghain nightclub; and luxury fashion label, Bottega Veneta, to events in Berlin.

A Bottega Veneta fashion show at Berghain was followed by a star-studded party at Soho House with celebrities apparently flying in to Berlin from the UK, US and elsewhere. Party-goer Instagram footage – since deleted – showed maskless guests dancing and partying in breach of lockdown rules. An anonymous tweet from a proclaimed Soho House employee, alleged that staff were forced to work without Covid tests and ‘there were no rules whatsoever and the upper management were participating’. Berlin Police are investigating and there is ‘outrage’ in a locked-down city where nightlife has been on hold for ordinary clubbers for over a year and where Covid infection rates are soaring.

Believe it or not, an extended fashion show may have been legal if classed as a work meeting. And if all guests had worn masks and presented negative tests. And if they did not number more than 20. Or if they had finished at 9pm. And if all foreigners had been in quarantine for at least five days. As one media outlet put it “since neither Bottega Veneta nor Berghain have responded to our requests for comment at the time of publication, the event’s legality and hygiene concept is unclear”.

Berghain’s sense of its own elitism possibly explains its silence. Bottega Veneta’s refusal to comment runs true to form. Its Creative Director, Daniel Lee, is notoriously reticient to give interviews and it deleted all its social media accounts in January.

At least there was a response from the Soho House group who confirmed that it was looking into a ‘spontaneous’ party at its venue that it said was later closed down by the management. Strange though that if you were being Covid compliant, it took you until 3am to shut down an event that was illegal after 9pm.

We’re already familiar with the stories of Rita Ora’s team offering a Notting Hill restaurant £5,000 to break lockdown rules so she could hold her 30th birthday; England footballer Kyle Walker holding a houseparty; Sky’s Kay Burleigh being suspended for her birthday party infraction of Covid rules.

Rita still sells records; Walker still plays for England; Burleigh and Berghain will be back. But apparently some Berlin Soho House Members have resigned in protest.

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