CHICAGO — Customers were eager to see Burberry creative director Christopher Bailey's first U.S. runway show here Tuesday night.
Burberry fans clad in their best little black dresses and designer heels gathered 30 minutes outside before the event, causing Nordstrom, the event's organizer, to open the doors early. Prior to the sold-out show, hosted by Vogue editor at large André Leon Talley and held at the Millennium Park Rooftop Terrace, the phones continued to ring as shoppers sought to buy tickets or call in favors for entry into the event featuring the Burberry Prorsum fall collection.
"We could have easily doubled the size," said Sarah Manley, Burberry senior vice president for global public relations and communications, noting the crowd of 360.
The event appeared to be a coup for all involved. Pete Nordstrom, Nordstrom president, and Angela Ahrendts, Burberry Group plc's chief executive officer, touted the companies' partnership.
"Our customers are very similar," said Ahrendts, noting that both are modern, classic, aspirational brands.
Burberry is one of Nordstrom's key lines. It is one of the few labels the Seattle-based retailer carries in all categories — women's, men's, children's and accessories, and Nordstrom is Burberry's largest U.S. wholesale customer.
"It's a very competitive marketplace," Nordstrom said. "That Christopher Bailey's first (U.S.) appearance is with Nordstrom, it does a lot. Not every design house is willing to do these things."
Bailey said he loved bringing his collection to receptive customers.
"Everyone was clapping (during the show)," Bailey said. "André told me 'Don't get used to it.'"
"We've done so many shows, but you really felt the energy here," he said.
Chicago seemed a natural destination for the first U.S. runway show given Burberry's penchant for outerwear. In fact, Nordstrom sold seven Burberry Prorsum coats after the show, including a blue taffeta trench, $2,295, and a khaki, short mottled-wool and cashmere trench with gold hardware, $3,795.
U.S. customers are attracted to "the very rich pieces like the technical outerwear and accessories,'' Bailey said. "They used to buy the classics. Now it's the opposite; they look for the special pieces."Bailey said he took inspiration from the brand's logo, the Burberry Prorsum knight, presenting a fall collection with a sleek, medieval, rocker edge complete with armor-beaded dresses, heavily studded handbags and quilted leather and black patent long gloves.
"I thought this is the way Burberry would do tough," the 36-year-old designer said after the event to benefit the Lookingglass Theatre Co.
Bailey also made an in-store appearance Wednesday at Nordstrom on Michigan Avenue, where he chatted with customers and signed the inside of some shoppers' Burberry coats and handbags.
On Thursday, he held trunk shows at Nordstrom San Francisco Centre and Nordstrom Bellevue Square in suburban Seattle.
Bailey's appearances coincide with Burberry's attempt to gain a stronger hold on the U.S. market.
“I think what’s so interesting about the #MeToo movement and this whole new wave of feminism in general, is that women are finally seeing, ’Oh I can start my own company, oh I can lear to code, oh I can leave my nine-to-five job and do the thing I want to do,” said @brooklyndecker ahead of her @sxsw talk for @createcultivate. The former model took the stage to share wisdom about networking and female-driven entrepreneurship. #wwdeye #sxsw (📷: @jgreenery)
“I was making the guacamole when my scout saw me,” says model @stuckinteenage on being discovered just six months ago while working at @chipotlemexicangrill. Since then Williams has signed with @dnamodels, walked in her first show at @calvinklein and landed on the cover of @vogueitalia – a high point of any model’s career. To read @lisajlockwood’s full interview with the model on her experiences thus far, head to WWD.com – link in bio. (📷: George Chinsee)
“I love the idea of dialogue, period. It’s where I’ve always gotten my inspiration from: hearing other women speak, their journeys and their paths,” said @hereisgina, who delivered the keynote speech at the @sxsw conference for @createcultivate, the online platform and conference series for women. For her two panels, Rodriguez chose female empowering, female-led and female entrepreneurs to focus on. Head to WWD.com to read more about her thoughts on Time’s Up, growing up in a family of women and why we “need a girls’ club.” #wwdeye #sxsw (📷: @jgreenery)
Leading luxury brand are shaking things up to keep up with streetwear. Case in point: the arrival of @mrkimjones as artistic director of @diorhomme. Jones, who succeeds @Kris_Van_Assche, is seen as one of the handful of designers who can actually straddle the luxury and streetwear worlds — which could lead to even more changes at established brands. What could this mean for the rest of the menswear landscape? Head to WWD.com to find out what experts predict #wwdfashion (📷: @franckmura)
“It’s like buying groceries. You’re going to buy the best mango, the best mozzarella, the best things. You have to, or others are going to take it all,” said @gabrielahearst on why she uses only the finest fabrics. Last week, Hearst received her first @cfda nomination for Womenswear Designer of the Year, and earlier this month she opened a permanent showroom in Paris. To read @jessiredale’s interview with the designer and find out why this is shaping up to be a big year for her, head to WWD.com. #wwdfashion (📷: @francoisgoize)
“It’s an interesting thing, playing a younger version of your mother. It’s an interesting concept. I adore my mom and love her in every capacity, but it was just something that had never crossed my mind,” says @anniemstarke on playing a young Joan Castleman in “The Wife.” The same role will be played by her mother Glenn Close. Read more about her growing up in the film industry as the daughter of producer John H. Starke and Close and what she has planned for the future #wwdeye (📷: @nataliamantini)
@asics is launching a new streetwear sneaker inspired by its latest ambassador, @steveaoki. The Hyper-Kenzen x Aoki, which will launch at @footlocker stores exclusively tomorrow, is a slip-on style that incorporates the brand’s proprietary Gel technology through beads integrated into the midsole for comfort and endurance. Read the full story on WWD.com.