Christopher Bailey

Shonagh Marshall

Designer Biography

DOI: 10.5040/9781474260428-FPA057

Christopher Bailey, born in 1971 in Halifax, Yorkshire, UK, is the son of a joiner and a window dresser for Marks and Spencer. Bailey studied for a MA at the Royal College of Art in London, graduating in 1994; however, Donna Karan had already given him a position at DKNY when she saw his RCA portfolio in 1993. In 2003 the Royal College of Art granted Bailey an honorary fellowship.

After spending three years as the designer of women’s wear at Donna Karan, in 1996 Bailey went to work under Tom Ford at Gucci as the head of women’s wear. Bailey, however, is most credited for his role as creative director (retitled chief creative officer in 2009) at the British heritage brand Burberry, to which he was appointed in 2001.

Christopher Bailey has revolutionized Burberry, increasing its revenue fourfold and reestablishing its position in the fashion arena. Since taking creative control at the company, Bailey has moved the Burberry Prorsum collection to Milan and rejuvenated the trench coat using fabrics such as lace, embroidery, studding, and metallic threads. This collection moved back to show in London in 2009, the same year as Bailey was awarded an MBE and the British Fashion Council celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary.

Bailey oversees all design for the company, including accessories; he launched the first Burberry fragrance; he signs off on the creative direction for all retail spaces; and he selects music for the shows, directs the advertising campaigns, and oversees social media. Alongside the collections, Bailey’s role in the rebranding of Burberry through advertising campaigns has included working with photographer Mario Testino, positioning the likes of supermodels such as Kate Moss alongside bright young things such as Edie Campbell, Cara Delevingne, actor Eddie Redmayne, actress Emma Watson, and musician George Craig. This melting pot of Britishness created by Bailey has enabled Burberry to become a global superpower.

Bailey was awarded Designer of the Year in 2005 and Menswear Designer of the Year in both 2007 and 2008 at the British Fashion Awards. He was also the winner of the international award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 2010. The Burberry Prorsum catwalk show is now the best-attended show of London Fashion Week, with a front row made up of celebrities and top-tier fashion editors. Bailey has taken a strong standpoint in pushing digital innovation within fashion and Burberry was the first brand to “Tweetwalk”—showing pictures of the collection simultaneously to the live catwalk show.

References and Further Reading

Find in Library Barnett Emma. ““London Fashion Week: Twitter Teams Up With Burberry to Launch ‘Tweetwalk.’”” The Telegraph , 19 September 2011 .

Find in Library Edemariam Aida. ““Christopher Bailey: When Two Worlds Collide”.” The Guardian , 13 February 2010 .

Find in Library Friedman Vanessa. ““Lunch with the FT: Christopher Bailey”.” Financial Times , 11 January 2013 .