5 Questions With Burberry's Christopher Bailey

Burberry’s Christopher Bailey and Lily James
Dan Kennedy

Christopher Bailey and Lily James were photographed by Dan Kennedy on Sept. 14 at Makers House in London.

The British label’s chief creative officer graced THR’s Top 25 Designer issue with fresh face Lily James.

Burberry is best known for its timelessly chic trench coats and plaid checks (“My earliest Burberry memory is when I was maybe 16 or 17 and all of the guys I fancied would wear the old school Burberry '90s checked shirts and caps,” said Lily James), but more and more its knockout red carpet looks come to mind — Naomi Watts, Blake Lively and Naomie Harris all stepped out at 2016’s Met Ball in custom Burberry, while James donned the label for three outings at the Toronto International Film Festival. Here, Christopher Bailey, the mastermind behind all of the creative efforts, talks about his debut see-now, buy-now runway, millennials and why Hollywood and the red carpet matter more than ever.

Pret-a-Reporter: What went into the conception of see now, buy now?

Christopher Bailey: We have been gradually changing the way we present our collections over the last few years, and more recently we started designing collections that were season-less as we recognized that with a global audience it is always cold somewhere and always warm somewhere else, so it felt important to cater to that mix.

Did you learn anything from the success of your L.A. show that you are applying to this experience and show?

Our trip to L.A. last year, which culminated in our show at the Griffith Observatory, was an incredibly special moment for us — I think it reflects what we always try to encourage our teams to do when dreaming of new shows and events — to take risks, to stay open-minded and to just keep moving forward with new ideas, and experiences, unique to that particular location and moment in time.

How does the red carpet factor into the new see now, buy now strategy?

Creativity means you’re going to break some rules and you’re going to break some traditions. I feel that with this new process and collection, we had the privilege of time; we never normally get to be able to show our collection in an intimate way before we show it to all of our audiences [some editors and stylists were given a sneak peek to pull for upcoming events], so that they can enjoy it, but in a very authentic way. This process has also given us more time to design special pieces.

The push for Burberry on the red carpet has been notable this past year — Adele, Naomi Watts, Blake Lively. Why is the red carpet still important to the brand?

We are so fortunate to work with such amazing talent during all stages of their careers, from musicians who are just starting out, to Oscar and BAFTA award winners. It is a great privilege to be able to champion and support them on their journeys both on and off the red carpet.

How much of the changes you are making in the fashion show are linked to appealing to millennials?

When you can shop at midnight and have your choices delivered to your home the next day, it allows you to think very differently about how you serve customers. The changes we are making were not created with a millennial generation in mind, but are meant to allow us to build a closer connection between the experience that we create with our runway shows and the moment when people can physically explore the collections for themselves, no matter what age they are.