It’s been 15 years since the Burberry check got its bad reputation. Referred to by the BBC in 2005 as “the Chav issue," the beige, red, black, and white print had become a mass market trend, with teenagers across the world sporting fake Burberry caps, scarves, shirts, and trench coats. I was one of them. The same year, hoodies and caps were banned in shopping centers in parts of the United Kingdom, thought to be intimidating to shoppers. It was a ridiculous time.
When Christopher Bailey took on the role of creative director of the brand in 2004, he had a mammoth task on his hands: Burberry had lost its footing in the luxury fashion space, and he was faced with make it relevant again. He did, by rooting the brand in music and British heritage. Fast-forward to 2017, and Burberry is the most luxury fashion show on the London schedule — so it was quite a shock to see the return of the controversial pattern on hats, jackets, trenches, bags, and hoodies. It was a shock, a thrill, and a stroke of genius, actually. All of Bailey’s hard work recovering the brand undone, by Bailey. As each reclaimed check item came down the runway — styled with dangly diamond earrings and studs — I thought to myself: “I want that, and that, and that.” The whole thing felt like a really confident reverse park.
Last season, Burberry collaborated with the Henry Moore Foundation, displaying the late artist’s sculptures on the catwalk. This time, the artistic element came in the form of a multi-story photography exhibit entitled "Here We Are," curated by Bailey and British photographer Alasdair McLellan. In fact, you could feel McLellan’s cool British style in the collection too — every model looked straight out of one of his photographs. Inside the exhibition was an entire room dedicated to the brand’s collaboration with cult Russian designer Gosha Rubchinskiy back in June, which focused heavily on the check and appears to have influenced the brand's new direction.
If the check wasn’t so overwhelming, we would be fawning over the plastic pastel pink and green jackets, pastel silk dresses, and flowery tulle skirts and gowns. Over the chunky knitwear, and the baby pink and blue shearling coats. But the check was too exciting…