In the historic setting of West London’s Dimco Buildings, Christopher Bailey bowed out of Burberry with a collection celebrating diversity, inclusivity and individual expression, values newly entrenched in the fashion house during his 17-year stay. As announced earlier this week, the Burberry Autumn/Winter 2018 collection was themed as much on the Pride stripes as the iconic Burberry check, with the house donating funds from the collection to three LGBTQ+ charities.
This was, in many ways, a show full of juxtapositions and ironies underlining how much Burberry has evolved during the years of Bailey’s tenure. When Bailey joined back in 2001, Burberry was a luxury British heritage brand perhaps best known for its trench coats as much as its check print, certainly benefiting from Britain’s wet climate. But Burberry’s AW18 collection was more about the sun, opening with Adwoa Aboah in rainbow stripes on a white silk skirt and closing with Cara Delevingne making her runway return in a floor-length cape coat in faux fur rainbow stripes with a signature Burberry check lining. In recent years, Bailey has moved Burberry to become a younger, more accessible brand that has experimented with more streetwear where it is now something of a cult brand. The AW18 collection embraced this new status, with puffa jackets, hi-top trainers presented in rainbow hues, and the trenchcoat and blanket cape updated with new technicolour versions. And all while continuing to proudly shout the house’s British heritage, with archive 1980s and 1990s pieces reimagined for a new generation who wear their Burberry layered with hoodies accompanied by now-iconic accessories, with snapbacks, shopper bags and visors among the standout pieces here.
Speaking after the show, Bailey alluded to the political and symbolic values of the collection:
There are so many questions being asked in the world now: about our values, about the way we live, the way we consume. I wanted us as a big organisation to make a stand for something. It is a way for me to try and make some sense of all this chaos.
All in all, Burberry AW18 was a collection that captured Bailey’s 17-year vision for the brand, which has retained and built on the foundations of Burberry’s heritage to bring a contemporary accessibility, inclusiveness and visual aesthetic that have seen the brand emerge at the forefront of the luxury global fashion market.
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