It’s hard to imagine Burberry without Christopher Bailey. After a transformative 17 years at the brand – Bailey has been chief creative officer and CEO since 2014 – his final show has just premiered at London Fashion Week. Bailey’s last show magnified what we have come to expect and enjoy from the man who revolutionised the once flailing ‘heritage’ brand.
Though there are nods to Burberry’s past throughout the collection, Bailey delivered a powerful twist: the rainbow stripes of the LGBTQ+ flag; So simply infused. So powerful. So, Bailey. In a perfect fusion we see the classic cap has been re-imagined with the LGBTQ+ flag, as has the tracksuit top. T-shirts stamped with ‘Burberrys’ on them nodding to the knock offs the brand once unintentionally encapsulated. Cara Delevigne’s long faux fur rainbow coat flaps as she closes the show, revealing the Burberry checked lining. This triumphant image serves as a lasting reminder encompassing Bailey’s unique talent.
Ahead of the show, Bailey told how his ‘final collection here at Burberry is dedicated to – and in support of – some of the best and brightest organisations supporting LGBT+ youth around the world.”
However, the collection is not the only commitment made to LGBT+ youth; Burberry have donated to the Albert Kennedy Trust, the Trevor Project and ILGA.
Tim Sigsworth, CEO of The Albert Kennedy Trust, said “24% of the 150,000 young people facing homelessness in the UK identify as LGBT+ after experiencing abuse and rejection just for being brave enough to come out to their families. Burberry’s donation will support our ongoing work to provide safe homes and support to young people,” The importance of Bailey’s last show reaches beyond the catwalk and illuminates the struggles of LGBTQ+ youth. The collection is breath-taking. It’s a good-bye, but not a wholly sad one.
The interweaving of the rainbow flag alongside the classic Burberry check has created a whole new layer to the brand, reflecting on how fashion has changed over the last 17 years. The pattern that we associate with ‘Britishness’ has just broadened its image. Although, there is the sense that this inclusivity has always underpinned Bailey’s Burberry. Bailey’s threads of diversity, inclusion and progress have always been at the root of his ethos.
By opening with Adwoa Aboah and closing with Cara Delevigne, Bailey’s final show layered icon upon icon – the new rainbow check, iconic models of Bailey’s era, and the final icon – the man himself. Bowing onstage and almost skipping off like a child, this is less of a sad goodbye when bathed in such brilliance.
Whilst we may not be able to purchase from Burberry just yet, Bailey’s contribution – to fashion, music, charity, and the LQBTQ+ community- is priceless.