The choice of having the designer fill both roles is unusual for a publicly listed fashion and luxury firm, and especially one that’s in the FTSE 100. Markets were puzzled, and Burberry’s announcement sent the company’s share price down nearly 9 percent.
To the folks at Burberry, however, anointing Bailey was business as usual. “I would never, ever, ever have considered leaving if I didn’t know that the company was significantly outperforming, and if I was not sure that Mr. Bailey was ready to take the baton,” said Ahrendts last month after Burberry reported a 32.6 percent spike in first-half net profits to 112.7 million pounds, or $173.6 million. “He has already been overseeing half of the business. In addition to the collections, all the store design, creative media and everything the consumer sees has gone through his office for the last eight years.”
Bailey and Ahrendts were a close-knit team — the two had already worked together at Donna Karan in New York — and had a rare professional relationship similar to that of Tom Ford and Domenico De Sole when they were running Gucci and, later, Gucci Group.
When the news first broke, Burberry took pains to convince observers that Bailey’s appointment was in the cards.
“Christopher has always been the board’s preferred successor [to Ahrendts], and there was no doubt in the board’s mind that Christopher is the right person to unlock the next phase of Burberry growth. It was a very measured, thought-through plan,” said Carol Fairweather, the company’s chief financial officer.
While there’s no shortage of goodwill for Bailey, observers are reserving judgment. “Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, if you combine the roles of head of design and ceo, you are definitely asking for trouble,” said George Wallace, chief executive officer of MHE Retail consultants. “But Christopher Bailey is no ordinary head of design: He is a highly accomplished designer with a really good commercial sense and he is capable of doing either one of those jobs. My worry is that it will be a superhuman task to do them both.”
Last month, Bailey sought to answer that question in his address to analysts following the profit statement. He revealed the promotion of his longtime right-hand man, Luc Goidadin, to the new position of chief design officer, said his Burberry would have a more “distilled” structure and that he would have fewer direct reports than his predecessor.
Wallace said it’s clear the people running Burberry are neither crazy nor stupid. “They are aware of all the issues. And I think things will depend on what the details of Christopher’s design involvement will be.” Wallace said the new setup will work, “as long as he’s not slaving over the drawing board.”
Following the initial announcement, De Sole, who is now chairman of Tom Ford International but knows Bailey from when the designer worked with Ford at Gucci, said he believes Bailey can play the two roles. “Christopher is terrific, and if he has strong operational and financial support around him, he can do both jobs.”
There'll be no rest for those headed to Europe for men's, as Paris just closed the gap with Milan. According to a provisional calendar released by the Chambre Syndicale, Paris Men's Week will now open a day earlier on January 16. See new highlights on the official lineup on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
BREAKING: Jonathan Saunders is leaving @DVF. The designer has resigned from his position as chief creative officer of Diane von Furstenberg, the company said in a statement on Friday. At the time of his hire, von Furstenberg said Saunders’ arrival symbolized and facilitated her stepping back from the day-to-day duties that occupy the work of a full-time creative director. The British designer joined DVF in May 2016 and was in charge of all product categories. #wwdnews
For @versace_official’s spring ad campaign, the brand emphasized the archival prints from the spring tribute collection dedicated to the late Gianni Versace. Closing out the show were five of Gianni’s favorite models: Cindy, Naomi, Carla, Helena, and Claudia. Bowing on December 18, the new campaign is yet another tribute to supermodel-dom as the images by Steven Meisel are fronted by @iamnaomicampbell, @cturlington, @gisele and more. #wwdfashion
Four-time Oscar-nominated actress Annette Bening has been waiting 20 years to play Gloria Graham in "Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool," which will be released on December 29. The movie about Graham – a Hollywood star known for her controversial relationship with a younger Englishman named Peter Turner – is based off a memoir Turned wrote. "She felt vulnerable to him, because she loved him, she really did love him. And anyone that we really truly are in love with, we re vulnerable to in a very deep way," said Bening. Read our full interview with the modern icon of an actress on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @ninebagatelles; Styled by @cristinaehrlich)
The crisp white button down: a staple that can be dressed up or down and accessorized throughout the decades. Here, on a Art Basel-goer in 2017 on the left and on the iconic Audrey Hepburn in “Roman Holiday” in 1953 on the right. #tbt #wwdfashion (📷: Andrew Morales)
Known for her work with @victoriassecret, 25-year-old model @georgiafowler is raising her profile in Hollywood. Fowler stars in @vincecamuto’s holiday campaign, which launched in partnership with “Pitch Perfect 3.” “Almost every shoot with Vince Camuto, I’ve had to face a fear…It was definitely a challenge. I’m so grateful for it, though. I’ve always wanted to be a pop star, so that was the perfect chance,” Fowler said. Head to WWD.com to read about Fowler’s experience modeling, including at the #VSFashionShow, and her relationship with Nick Jonas. #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
EXCLUSIVE: Huda Kattan just became the first beauty influencer to land a major beauty deal. Kattan's business, @hudabeauty, has received a minority investment from private equity firm TSG Consumer Partners. The brand, which industry sources say is on track to do $200 million in retail sales for 2017, will receive support on product, retail and geographic expansion through the deal. Get all the details on the deal and read @_a_collins' interview with Kattan on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdbeauty #wwdnews
Peruvian model @juanaburga_official – who is known for walking the runways of @rodarte, @viviennewestwood and @torybuch – is making the move to the big screen with drama “Los Últimos.” The film premiered in Argentina in November and arrives in the U.S. and Europe in 2018. On making the switch from modeling to acting, Burga told WWD: “It’s a completely different thing – a lot of people think it’s similar or try to connect things, especially like getting used to the camera or being looked at all the time or playing these different characrers, but film is a completely different story.” #wwdeye (📷: @jgreenery)
London’s newly opened @designmuseum will look back on the life and work of Azzedine Alaïa in a show that the designer helped to curate before he died of heart failure last month. The retrospective, which Alaïa had worked on with Mark Wilson, chief curator of the @groningermuseum, will look at the impact of his work worldwide. The show, “Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier,” will run from May 10 to October 7. Read more about the exhibit on WWD.com #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @zefashioninsider)