It’s been 15 years since the Burberry check got its bad rep. Tonight, it fully recovered. When Christopher Bailey took on the role of creative director in 2004, the brand had lost its footing in the luxury fashion world. Referred to by the BBC in 2005 as “the Chav issue”, the beige Burberry check had become a mass market trend, with teenagers up and down the country sporting fake Burberry caps, scarves, shirts and trench coats on high streets. I was one of them. The same year, hoodies and caps were banned in shopping centres, thought to be intimidating to shoppers. It was a ridiculous time. So when Bailey took over, he had the mammoth task on his hands of making Burberry credible on the luxury fashion scene again, which he did, rooting the brand in music and British heritage. So fast-forward to 2017, when Burberry is the most luxury fashion show on the London schedule, and it was quite a shock to see the return of the beige check on caps, Harrington jackets, trenches, bags and hoodies. It was a shock, and a thrill. All of Bailey’s hard work recovering the brand undone, by Bailey – it was a stroke of genius actually. As each reclaimed check item came down the runway, styled with dangly diamond earrings and studs, I thought “I want that”, “and that”, “and that”. The whole thing felt like a really confident reverse park.
Last season, the brand collaborated with the Henry Moore Foundation, displaying the late artist’s sculptures on the catwalk. This season, the artistic element came in the form of a multi-story photography exhibition 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 like an Alasdair photograph. Inside the exhibition was an entire room dedicated to the brand’s collaboration with cult Russian designer Gosha Rubchinskiy back in June, which focussed heavily on the check too, and appears to have influenced the new direction of the brand.
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…
With grime artists Skepta and Stormzy sat front row in place of the usual blonde mop-haired indie stars, the show felt more relevant than ever. It was closed by Adwoa Aboah wearing a beautiful garden-green tulle skirt and the same beige check cap that she’s wearing on the cover of Dazed magazine, released today. The full collection is now available to buy on burberry.com. That hat costs £195.