During an exclusive interview in the three-story space, which is virtually an exact replica of the brand’s store on 121 Regent Street in London, Christopher Bailey, Burberry’s chief creative officer and chief executive officer designate, said the brand chose Shanghai for its next big event because it has been underrepresented in the city. In the past year or so, Burberry has closed some existing locations and opened four new retail spaces in Shanghai.
“We did not feel we were represented in the right way in Shanghai,” Bailey told WWD. “We found some great real estate. The openings happened to be consecutive but we wanted to make a bold statement in Shanghai and build something that really reflected the totality of the brand.”
Of Burberry’s 25 global flagships, five are in China. The brand bought back its business on the Mainland from its franchise partner in 2010. Burberry is in a total of 36 cities in China, including a flagship in Beijing that was opened in 2011.
Bailey declined to speak about his upcoming role as Burberry’s ceo. He will succeed Angela Ahrendts, who is joining Apple Inc.
While Bailey declined to disclose sales figures in China, he said the country continues to be “an incredibly strong market” for the brand.
“We see an appetite for a consumer loving what we stand for in terms of heritage and history,” he said. “Something that has traditional roots, yet something that is moving forward. We reflect what is happening here. There is a strong history in China, but it is moving forward very fast. That reflects our DNA. There is a natural symmetry with our brand and what is happening in China.”
Bailey said that even though he comes to China once or twice a year, he is still amazed by the pace of change. “People now want to know the details behind our products,” he said. “That kind of interest behind the product is important here — a familiarity that is stable but not stuck in the past. That is moving forward. We are finding that really resonates. Something kind of old and also something new.”
In the digital space, Burberry arguably continued to push digital boundaries — and cover all of its bases in the Chinese online digital space. The brand worked with Tencent Holdings Ltd., owner of WeChat, a mobile app similar to Whatsapp, to create customized content for the show. Followers of Burberry’s brand page on WeChat (Weixin in Chinese) could vie for free tickets to the event, engage with an interactive digital experience before the fashion show and have access to footage from the show.
The show Thursday night comes three years since Burberry held its last event in China. That event, in Beijing, was digitally immersive, emotive and, above all, memorable. Guests stood in a pitch-black space, surrounded by holograms of London and the different seasons that encompass the city. Music from Adele played while models showcased Burberry’s classic and more contemporary collections. It was Burberry in the 21st century. And the brand chose to showcase that in China, arguably the home of the most digitally connected consumers on earth.
On Thursday night in Shanghai, Burberry topped that show with something akin to a Broadway production. The Shanghai event was staged at an old shipyard next to the Huangpu, a river that, like the Thames, cuts through the heart of this city of more than 20 million. The inside of the space transformed into a standing-room-only theater. Arguably a bit Broadway kitsch, Act 1 of Burberry’s Shanghai debut started out with a musical ensemble of male models dancing in classic trenches and black suits with iconic Burberry umbrellas, followed by a female dance ensemble, also in the signature trenches, that reminded one of “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” from “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”
There was then an act of purely digital advertising of lipstick, blush and other cosmetics projected on walls surrounding attendees (Burberry recently took its cosmetic business in-house instead of using a third party for its beauty lines). But it was the finale that made for another event that likely will be remembered until the next one. Holograms of the changing seasons of the London skyline blended with the ultramodern skyline of Shanghai while models showcased Burberry Prorsum’s fall collection, “Bloomsbury Girls,” alongside a live performance from British singer-songwriter Paloma Faith. Other musical artists included British musicians Ed Harcourt and George Ezra.
VIPs included Chinese actress Carina Lau, Chinese model and actress Angelababy and Chinese model Du Juan.
The show concluded with British model and actress Cara Delevingne flying above the audience — like a Burberry-clad Mary Poppins.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast