It seems that 2010 is Christopher Bailey’s year. Just five days ago he was receiving an MBE at Buckingham Palace, and last night Burberry’s Chief Creative Officer was presented with not one but two of the most prestigious honours at the British Fashion Awards – Designer of the Year, and Brand of the Year.
'It's amazing, and a bit overwhelming,' said Bailey of receiving the double whammy. To make a hat trick, the designer was also honoured, alongside 24 other names, as one of the British Fashion Council’s ‘Power List’ of the ‘25 most influential people working in Britain’s fashion industry today’.
This October, the British luxury label finally returned from Milan to show in London for the first time, and the eagerly-anticipated and extravagant catwalk presentation (and A-list packed front row and after party) was the highlight of London Fashion Week’s 25th anniversary celebrations. The show was broadcast live across the web and is thought to have reached a huge worldwide audience, many of whom took advantage of the opportunity to write comments on the models’ outfits live online. And last night Bailey used his second acceptance speech to make a very special announcement. 'We will be showing again in London in February,' he said, adding that he was 'thrilled that we could use tonight to announce that - it's dead exciting.'
One of Britain’s oldest surviving fashion houses (now over 150 years old), Burberry has stylishly and fearlessly embraced the new wave of social networking – it's The Art Of The Trench website allows Burberry wearers to upload pictures of themselves in the iconic raincoat, and Bailey’s frequent messages to the label’s fans on Burberry’s official Facebook fan page have generated something of a cult following for the modest designer.
Responsible for the design of all Burberry collections and product lines, Bailey is also responsible for the company's overall image including all advertising, corporate art direction and store design. Last month he was given a new title to reflect his input across all areas of the label – Chief Creative Officer.
But it is his sartorial flair which has made his name. Bailey seems to effortlessly create that holy grail of fashion – pieces that are both modern and timeless; his endless reinterpretations of the house’s iconic trenchcoat grow more desirable each season. In eight years, he has helped build up Burberry into a respected British power brand, with revenues hitting £1bn for the first time last year.
But more than that, quite simply, Bailey has made it cool to be British. With the label’s glossy ad campaigns shot by Mario Testino and featuring English roses such as Stella Tennant, Emma Watson, Kate Moss and Agyness Deyn in sharp styling and high fashion poses, he has reintroduced the concept of 'British glamour' to today’s worldwide audience.
While it’s hard to imagine the Yorkshire-born Bailey anywhere other than London, he worked from 1994 to 1996 as womenswear designer at Donna Karan, and was the senior designer of womenswear at Gucci from 1996 to 2001, before joining Burberry as Creative Director in May 2001.
This is not the first time Bailey has been honoured at the British Fashion Awards. Last year he was named Menswear Designer of the Year, and he was previously named Designer of the Year in 2005. Well known for his self-effacing nature, Bailey summed up his triumphant night with typical modesty, 'It was already a special night because of the 25th anniversary of London Fashion Week, but [receiving the awards] just makes it even more special.'