After 17 years at the helm of Burberry, Christopher Bailey revealed a rainbow-filled, mishmash collection at London Fashion Week as he prepares to leave the brand.
Guests arrived at the cavernous warehouse venue beside the Westfield London shopping centre in White City to the chants of anti-fur protestors, who had camped out ahead of the show.
Inside, Bailey showed a riotous and colourful melange of styles from the past, present and future as his sign-off.
The rainbow was a central motif, covering everything from the opening puffa jacket to the long fake fur princess cape that closed the show. The rainbow stripes were even woven into the brand’s famous heritage check, signifying the business’s support for three LGBTQ+ charities and Bailey’s legacy for the brand.
There was an eclectic feel to the collection. In reference to Burberry of the 1980s and 1990s, archive branding was bought back to life on brash hoodies and trashy knock-off-style “fake” panelled tracksuits.
In an almost ironic twist, the very on-trend branded hoodies and sporty tracksuits were reminiscent of the licensed Burberry product Bailey was once bought in to eliminate in an attempt to elevate the brand from its “chav” associations.
There were also classic Bailey styles throughout: the oversized shearling jackets from his famous aviator collection, military jackets and large trench coats layered over delicate dresses.
These were clashed with tie dye puffa jackets, patchwork knits and coats graffitied with appliqued doodles and embellishments, drawing on streetwear and youth culture styles from across the decades.
The collection continued in the more youthful direction of his last range, seemingly aimed at the Instagram generation who look for bold, bright and branded product.
Bailey successfully turned the once-failing British label into a pioneering luxury powerhouse and the jewel in London Fashion Week’s crown. While results have faltered in recent years, it seemed Bailey wanted to finish on a positive note. Past collections often featured more serious themes – the most fitting example being an actual rain storm pouring down on one collection as the models took to the catwalk. But for Bailey’s last offering before he leaves at the end of March – it was the rainbow that shone bright as the models walked their final lap in a breathtaking light installation.
The designer took his final Burberry bow to a standing ovation from the large crowd, but the question remained: what will Burberry, and Bailey, do next?