Christopher Bailey’s Global Outlook for Burberry

Painterly influences and notably diverse casting provided the starting point for Christopher Bailey’s internationally focused Autumn/Winter 2014 collection for Burberry, reports Nabil Aliffi.

LONDON, United Kingdom — Taking cue from the menswear collection in January titled ‘A Painter’s Journey’, Burberry featured its womenswear in a similar spirit. Broad brush strokes adorned the classic Burberry trench coats done in fluttery chiffon. Watered down hues were accompanied by accents of rich aubergine and forest greens while cosy Scottish cashmere blankets with reinvented Burberry checks added a warm and fuzzy effect. A projection of an Impressionistic rendering of London’s city skyline gave way to live music by Ed & Rhodes as the screens parted in the show’s prelude. The scene was exceptionally romantic, even by Burberry’s standard.

Amidst the evocative theatrics, which has become the brand’s trademark, what stood out was Christopher Bailey’s global outlook for this collection. The model casting has never felt more international, especially with the inclusion of Neelam Johal — first model of Indian descent to lend her beauty to a Burberry campaign — and many others like Xiao Wen Ju and Sung Hee Kim. Despite the eclectic casting, it was an A-grade model posse throughout, with ‘in-the-moment’ girls like Suki Waterhouse, Malaika Firth and of course, Cara Delevingne.

The choice of fabrics also echoed this global slant. The lightweight of some of the ensembles suggested that winter could be absolutely anywhere in the world. Sheer baby doll gowns and see-through lace, that may be a few layers too thin for the British weather, made a heavy appearance.

In an interview backstage, Bailey sounded pleasantly surprised that his efforts of making the collection more global were noticed at all. “It’s interesting, no one has actually picked up on that. Absolutely, that was really important to the collection. This goes into the stores in September — and in September half the world is boiling hot, half the world is still cold. So what we have to do in these collections is to have a good balance for a much more global outlook.”

Despite Bailey’s more inclusive view of his customers, the reference point remained decisively British. The creative head and newly appointed CEO cited the Bloomsbury group as inspiration. He was particularly moved by this precious community of artists like Virginia Woolf, Roger Fry and Vanessa Bell, who not only contributed much to British Art history but were also well-rounded individuals that really resonated with Bailey’s values.

He added, “I’m in an incredibly lucky position that I meet interesting people. I like people and it’s when they have character, an authentic character, that I am really drawn to them. Sometimes they are people who have done incredible things, other times they are people who have just started out on their journey.”

Individuality will certainly prove to be a universal theme that will resonate with customers worldwide. For starters, the models were already championing their way in the finale, fashioning their newly gifted cashmere blankets with their initials emblazoned on them.

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