After 17 long years, it has been announced that Christopher Bailey, creative director of British luxury fashion house Burberry, will be stepping down from his role in March 2018. Beginning his career with Burberry back in 2001, Bailey has revolutionised the way in which people see the brand and has overseen the management since also becoming CEO in May 2014. Prior to his work at Burberry, Bailey had also worked with Donna Karan and Gucci.
“The biggest challenge for Burberry, before Christopher Bailey embarked on his voyage with the fashion house, was the rise of the ‘Chav’.”
In a press release on the Burberry website last month, Bailey commented that “Burberry encapsulate so much of what is great about Britain. As an organisation, it is creative, innovative and outward looking.” Overseeing all elements of design along with other key members of Burberry during his reign, Bailey understood the need to develop and expand his realm through technology where he utilised social media platform, Snapchat, to advertise beauty campaigns and capsule collections.
The biggest challenge for Burberry, before Christopher Bailey embarked on his voyage with the fashion house, was the rise of the ‘Chav’. Stereotypically known for wearing Burberry’s distinctive camel check print, the reputation of the label was under threat due to the negative association for what was known as the uniform for the historic social group back in the early 2000’s. In an article written for The Telegraph in 2004, it was suggested that Burberry suffered an overwhelming 40% drop in its sales resulting in the iconic pattern only being featured on less than 10% of Burberry’s clothing.
Of course, Bailey did it. He turned around the negativity surrounding the infamous ‘Chav’ print and slowly brought it back to Burberry. In Burberry’s September 2017 collection, the tartan and checks prints were brought back to the runway answering as a logo to the label rather than an iconic pattern. The camel, red and navy check pattern decorated baseball caps, tote bags and also transformed their signature trench coat. It was only earlier last month that Rihanna was seen wearing her own adaption of the runway collection, in a PVC checked trench and an LBD which was from her 2013 capsule collection for high street store, River Island. Finishing the look with a pair of Manolo Blahnik’s and red argyle socks, Rihanna confirmed that the then ‘chavtastic’ print has earned its right back into fashion where it belongs which is all with the help of Bailey bringing back Burberry’s identity.
“Bringing Burberry back into the heart of British fashion will be Bailey’s legacy.”
Reviving the luxury fashion house is how Christopher Bailey will be known; after all that is what he is was awarded his MBE for. Bringing Burberry back into the heart of British fashion will be Bailey’s legacy. Dressing Burberry supporters, Emma Watson, Kate Moss, and Cara Delevingne, there was no wonder why friend and singer Adele and other famous faces came out praising Bailey for his work. Adele spoke of him, saying that he was “the first major fashion house to dress her” – and her “big arse”. Christopher Bailey’s designs defined Adele throughout her world tour both this year and last year as unlike many other exemplary female artists, Adele chose to wear a glittering Burberry gown accompanied with a pair of flats. Adele’s stylist Gaelle Paul spoke of how the flower print, formed using sequins which flowed in alternate directions, created “the galaxy-star effect you see when you see her onstage and on film.”
Christopher Bailey had the ability to pay attention to the people he dresses as well as the clothing, and ensured all Burberry’s consumers received the phenomenal service expected of them.
Bailey shocked the fashion industry when he decided that Burberry would be pioneering ‘See Now, Buy Later’, meaning that items from the runway could be bought after being presented. This however presented a huge problem to the supply and demand chain amongst fashion buyers as it meant that the collections were not in sync with marketing departments and the traditional fashion calendar which follows seasons. Making Burberry’s collections ‘seasonless’ meant that both womenswear and menswear merged, showing how the fashion industry should not be specific to genders.
“Another unique component to the legacy of Christopher Bailey at Burberry is his ability to utilise his resources, meaning bloggers.”
Like other great fashion houses, Burberry has dabbled in beauty products but launched its very own makeup range in 2010 after Bailey explained his frustration with cakey makeup and mismatching colours used on his models for his shows. The line itself was inspired by the English natural landscape and Burberry’s iconic trench coat, commenting that “Like the trenchcoat, it can be worn anywhere and at any time”. Starting off with an overwhelming 96 products, models including English roses Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Lily Donaldson starred in the collections initial campaign, gloating their beautifully raw skin, dewy complexion and bold brows. The collection really was one for the millennials who did not enjoy chiseled cheeks and experimenting with colour.
Today, Burberry beauty is still ahead of its game as it continues to play with textures and finishes as they introduce the Burberry Kisses gloss and Lip Contours.
Another unique component to the legacy of Christopher Bailey at Burberry is his ability to utilise his resources, meaning bloggers. Blogging is so popular as many make careers out of it. Luxury labels like Burberry are endorsing more and more of these bloggers, as they are dressed for upcoming shows and are gifted new and upcoming products from Burberry. Youtuber and blogger Tanya Burr has frequently been snapped with Christopher Bailey, after being dressed in a variety of trench coats and dresses before they even appear on the runway.
The fashion world now waits for further news on the ins and outs at Burberry. Current CEO Marco Gobbetti will continue to have the support of Christopher Bailey after his departure. As always, there are a string of rumours concerning who will be replacing Bailey in the Spring and already there is a list starting with British fashion designers Phoebe Philo, and Stuart Vevers, who has been the creative director of American brand Coach since 2013.
There is no denying that Bailey has left a lasting legacy during his years at the luxury fashion house. He has brought back the beauty of British fashion and has completely transformed the future of creativity for the brand. Bailey created a new experience for Burberry’s buyers and consumers so we can only hope that all of this will continue when the new creative director is announced in the near future.