“Memories, sweet memories…” were the fitting first words to emerge in the soundtrack to Christopher Bailey’s final show for Burberry. Set in a sparse, rectangular shape, with a floor level runway, the only extravagance was gently swinging lamps casting large circles of light which swayed across the empty space, rhythmically beaming on a front row brimming with anticipation.
Bailey came to Burberry in 2002 at the age of 29 as a virtual unknown in the industry. Seventeen years later he has completely revolutionized not only the brand, once known only for stodgy British raincoats, but the entire fashion industry as well. Bailey welcomed the advent of the technological age with more grace than others (at the time), being the first major designer to incorporate the live streaming of his shows, the building of an interactive website, as well as cultivating his own multi media studio in the new Burberry headquarters, which he designed. Bailey and Burberry came of age in tandem, both growing and navigating the new digital age and embracing not only what fashion has always been, but what the future could look like as well. It is no wonder that Burberry became the first major label to adopt the “see now, buy now” structure back in 2016. The realization that today’s Instagram obsessed modern client does not want to wait six months to purchase what they see on the runway today was a long overdue “ah-ha” moment and has since grown in popularity across the fashion industry.
But enough about all that, what about the collection!? There is a lot to unpack here, and we are happy to do so. The most notable aspect about Bailey’s final collection is without a doubt his creation of the Rainbow Check, his final homage to the famous Burberry plaid print. The cheerful rainbow colors representing the LGBTQ community were used far and wide throughout the collection, appearing in the aforementioned plaid, on puffer jackets and vest, as stripes across a skirt or sweater, on bags, shoes, hats and everything in between; not least of all in the form of a technicolored dream coat billowing around the frame of Cara Delevingne and her signature sly smirk, making her first runway appearance since 2016 and closing the show to a kaleidoscope of camera flashes. Bailey stated: “My final collection here at Burberry is dedicated to - and in support of - some of the best and brightest organizations
supporting LGBTQ+ youth around the world. There has never been a more important time to say that in our diversity lies our strength, and our creativity.” The use of the symbolic rainbow is being back by donations to various charities. If you're going to make a public exit, this is the way to do so.
The 85 piece collection proved to be an amalgam of styles and influences, a harmonious dedication to modern style, trends and Bailey’s own evolution. The 80s are a hot topic right now and showed its force in the form of various wind breakers and members only jackets. Chunky sneakers decked out with polka dots appeared alongside traditional plaid printed men’s loafers. Vibrant colors were everywhere, mixed with playful graffiti inspired prints and embellishments. The collection was a joyful, inspired, hopeful event made even more epic by the rainbow laser canopy that shot up from the floor as the models made their farewell march down and around the runway. Bailey made his final bow to a standing ovation, leaving us to take a cue from his successful playbook by embracing change, looking toward the future and being thankful for the time we had together.
Written by Elizabeth Kramsky
Visuals by Olga Sorokina
Photo courtesey of vogue.com