It’s all change at Burberry’s London headquarters in Horseferry Road this fall. The other week, Christopher Bailey made his first appearance in front of the new audience he’s set to impress next year: the investors (London’s equivalent of Wall Street) who will want to know how a 42-year-old designer will handle the company’s financials when he takes over as CEO next year, succeeding Angela Ahrendts, who is departing to join Apple.
Well, anyone familiar with Bailey’s profile as Britain’s most business-driven fashion brain will have no qualms about that. It was he, after all, who persuaded Ahrendts, a former colleague from their times together at Donna Karan, to join Burberry in 2006: as sure-handed a piece of “casting” as his early discovery of Cara Delevingne and a measure of the competence of his overarching influence within the FTSE 100 company. Even as far back as 2001, when the then-CEO Rose Marie Bravo hired Bailey, she always said that it was his exceptional commercial focus that landed him the job. In his interview, the first thing Bailey talked about was connecting with customers, a vision which came to fruition when he seized on the opportunities of the digital age and turned Burberry into the all-communicating global juggernaut it is today.
The news from Bailey’s debut in front of the financial community is that a new designer is stepping up to assist him well, in a manner of speaking. Luc Goidadin, a fellow alum of the Royal College of Art, who has been working with Bailey for twelve years, has been appointed to the new role of Chief Design Officer. Seamless continuity on the design front is the word, leaving Bailey to settle into Ahrendts’s role one which he doubtless knows inside out, since they’ve been thick as thieves for years by mid 2014.
Which brings us to pre-fall. Absolutely no signs of upheaval here. If anything, the collection reflects a gentler return to eclectic British style with a younger, more casual edge and a welcome dash of fun. Using made-in-Britain arts and crafts–inspired materials, there are lace skirts and romantically droopy dresses, rich lozenge-patterned jacquards and chunkily luxurious jackets patchworked in shearling and fur. In a witty nod to the local-global reach of the Burberry, there’s also a souvenir collectible for everyone: T-shirts printed with black-and-white line drawings of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, the Chrysler building in New York, the Forbidden City in Beijing, and so on. If there’s a message, it’s this: Let’s all relax. For a transitional season, at a transitional time, this is a nice way to go.
Selections by ANDREA JANKE Finest Accessories
Photos: Courtesy of Burberry Prorsum
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'Specimen A is a long sleeveless dress with a full skirt in a jacquard of pink roses vibrating slightly oddly against a deep burgundy background, and a very good illustration of why its designer walked off with that title at the British Fashion Awards.'