Long before the live musical performances, glamorous front rows, and collections live streamed via Snapchat, Burberry was a label steeped in utility and function. In fact, the brand rose to prominence outfitting WWI soldiers and Mount Everest explorers. The precursor to Burberry’s now iconic trench coat was conceived in 1901 as the uniform for British officers (hence the name trench coat). The signature check lining didn’t appear until 1924, but quickly evolved into a status symbol in its own right.
The dawn of the millennium saw a new era at Burberry with freshly-appointed Christopher Bailey (formerly of Gucci and Donna Karan) taking over its design efforts. Tasked with repositioning Burberry as a luxury fashion label, Bailey’s first decision was to shift the brand’s focus away from signature checks.
In the ensuing years, Burberry emerged as a veritable runway frontrunner. Whether it was the Fall 2006 show, where Stella Tennant modeled an undeniably cool trench updated with plush fox fur, or Bailey’s bold decision to return the label to London Fashion Week with the Spring 2009 “Garden Girls” show, each one of his runway collections has brought a modern voice to Burberry without forsaking its storied heritage.
Appointed CEO and Chief Creative Officer in 2014, Bailey’s directional touch has extended far beyond the catwalk’s end. From the award-winning campaigns shot by photographer Mario Testino—with Sienna Miller posing in a trench (and perhaps nothing else), Emma Watson straight out of Harry Potter, and the pint-sized Romeo Beckham larking under a mega-sized umbrella—to recasting Burberry as a digital innovator with “The Art of the Trench” social campaign, Bailey has positioned Burberry as a global luxury brand.
The Signature Pieces
Heritage classics reimagined for the modern wardrobe.