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The Art of the Trench: Interview with Christopher Bailey

The Art of the Trench: Interview with Christopher Bailey

Miroslava Duma talks shop with the Burberry CEO

Image: Burberry

Christopher Bail

Christopher Bailey

Christopher Bailey, Creative Director and recently appointed CEO of British design house Burberry, very rarely gives interviews. And so Buro 24/7 founder Miroslava Duma was doubly pleased that the designer took the time to meet with her personally to discuss the iconic Burberry trench.

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Miroslava Duma

Miroslava Duma | I happened to be featured in Chanel's 'The Little Black Jacket' project in Moscow, devoted to the iconic jacket. In a similar way, the key piece for Burberry is the trench. Why do you think it has become such an icon?

Christopher Bailey | Thomas Burberry did not originally conceived the trench as something fashionable all those years ago. It was created to be part of a functional military uniform – which subsequently fell into the everyday wardrobe.  Why has it not gone out of fashion? I think it is because it is very easy to wear for both men and women, and all age groups. It is absolutely versatile and always appropriate.

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 Vintage Burberry Advertisement

Miroslava Duma | In Russia we say: "All genius is simple", a motto that seems to have been made for the Burberry trench. It was invented at the beginning of the last century, but today it is just as alive, and you are constantly experimenting with the form and silhouette, while retaining the essence of its heritage...

Christopher Bailey | Yes, we have great respect for the heritage of the house. No matter how fashion changes, the trench coat will always be present in our collections. This is the foundation, without which our house is unthinkable.

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Frol Burimskiy

Miroslava Duma | Burberry has been travelling the world with the project 'The Art of the Trench', can you tell us more about it? How did the idea come about?

Christopher Bailey | It's a fun story, and I'm not the author. The idea comes from the various people who wrote to me with stories about the Burberry trench coat. Fore example, many clients have written to tell me that "this coat was worn by my grandfather, then my father and now I wear it...". I thought it would be selfish of me to be the only one to hear all of these wonderful stories, many of which are incredibly emotional. I remember I received a message from one girl - she sent me a photo of herself in her grandmother's trench. The young lady looked just amazing! I was most surprised by the magnitude of correspondence – people writing from all over the world. Different cultures, preferences, lifestyles, characters, and all sharing a love for our trench. So we decided to take pictures of people wearing the Burberry trench around the world with "The Art of the Trench".

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Juliae Pelipas

Miroslava Duma | How did you decide who to feature?

Christopher Bailey | For me it is all about interesting, extraordinary personalities – no matter what they do. People who are distinctive and open to the world. Social networks in this sense are very useful – here you can find exceptional, inspiring your people, whether it is a young stylist, aspiring architect, director, and so on. I greatly appreciate people who look at life with interest and passion.

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Miroslava Duma | Burberry is the most prolific digital fashion house right now. But what about books? Would you not like to write a book about the Burberry trench perhaps?

Christopher Bailey | I love the Internet, I love everything high-tech – but I also like paper media. For example every morning I read the newspaper, and I do buy books. My studio is covered in books. 

Miroslava Duma | Tell me more detail about your joint project with Google, Burberry kisses.

Christopher Bailey | We wanted to do something unique and touching with the use of digital technology. Something very advanced and at the same time, very human. Something that would make you smile. I wanted to oppose the cynicism, which prevails into today's world, and to remind people of things like love and friendship. So we thought why not send a virtual kiss – it's so easy and pleasant. I love the whole project; it is very inspiring and positive.

Miroslava Duma | Continuing with the theme of the internet, I want to express my admiration for your online project 'Burberry's Acoustic Initiative', which supports talented musicians. 

Christopher Bailey | Thank you. I've always loved music. We spend a lot of time and attention selecting the music for all of our events, whether it's a fair or a show. People know about my "music weakness" and send me their demos. For a long time I did not know what to do with them until the idea was born to create a special online platform, where it would unload all the fruits of creativity.  It is nice to live with the knowledge that you can help talented people get the exposure they deserve. 

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Thomas Burberry