Christopher Bailey said his goodbye to Burberry on Saturday night — and it certainly wasn’t a quiet exit. Guests entered the west London venue to the chants and screeches of fur protesters — who came out in even larger numbers than last season — and entered a vast and largely vacant brick venue where the designer’s guests and friends were gathering to watch his last show for the brand.
“I’m proud and sad in equal parts,” said Sienna Miller, who starred in Burberry’s 2016 Christmas campaign, a short film that also featured Dominic West. “All the Burberry girls had to be here tonight.” They came out in force: Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, Keira Knightley and Naomi Watts joined Michelle Dockery, Naomie Harris, Lily James and Daphne Guinness.
Chelsea Clinton, who is best friends with Bailey’s husband Simon Woods, sat in the friends and family section. “It was Simon who brought Christopher into our lives and we’re so thankful for that. There was nowhere else we wanted to be tonight — and we’re thrilled for Christopher,” said Clinton, who was accompanied her husband Marc Mezvinsky.
Burberry collaborated with United Visual Artists on the long swaying spotlights suspended from the ceiling, and a giant prism of rainbow lasers that models strode through during the finale. The latter installation, “Our Time,” is on loan from the Museum of Old and New Art Australia.
Bailey, Burberry’s president and chief creative officer who’s saying goodbye after 17 years, said he’s been reflecting on his own time at the company.
“It’s quite a poignant collection just because it’s my last one, but it made me start thinking about the importance of time. I think we are living in such an interesting period, chaotic and upsetting and changing,” he mused before the show. “I wanted to try and reflect that in some way in the collection.”
He worked in elements from the Burberry archives, and even prints that Burberry had done under license in the Sixties and Seventies. There were looks from the Eighties, too, and many from his own tenure. “It’s a real mishmash of things. A mélange of all of that. The sentiment of the show is about the future and how exciting and positive it is. I hope it is. I’m an optimist, my glass is half full.”
The collection also marks a shift in the company’s see-now-buy-now strategy, with only some runway looks going on sale immediately. Burberry plans to divide the year into multiple product drops, a strategy that dovetails with those of many other fashion and streetwear brands.
This season, Burberry also created a capsule of reissued pieces from the Eighties and Nineties that went on sale immediately, and is selling its Rainbow Check collection, part of an initiative to support charities that help LGBTQ, or lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, youths, in store now.
That rainbow check — and others — featured prominently in Saturday’s outing, which had a streetwear feel — and a retro one, too, what with the baggy shell suits, oversize zip-front jackets and check jackets that recalled Burberry’s chav days. Some of Bailey’s greatest hits, including shearling aviator jackets, capes and ponchos, military great coats and shimmery cocktail dresses, also beat a path down the catwalk.
Highlights included the long, white skirts and dresses with rainbow flourishes, wool sweaters and coats with fabric paint splodges, and the long, rainbow patchwork cape, with check lining, modeled by Cara Delevingne — one of Bailey’s discoveries — at the end of the show.