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The Five Best Quotes From Christopher Bailey at British Vogue’s Festival

Christopher Bailey.
Christopher Bailey.

Today saw the first outing for British Vogue’s “Vogue Festival,” the brainchild of Alexandra Shulman, designed as a platform for fashion industry names to speak and debate in front of the general public (or at least in front of those who could afford the $120 entry charge per half-day). Burberry chief creative officer Christopher Bailey was the first to take to the stage with the editor-in-chief, where he proved himself quite the adorable conversationalist. His 40-minute interview included plenty of modest jokes at his own expense, plus some musings on his brand, bad weather, and dry-stone walling (the ancient art of building a wall without any mortar to bind the stones, of course). Click ahead to read some highlights.

On being offered the Burberry creative director role in 2001: “It was mind-blowing. I just remember thinking it was this incredibly beautiful diamond that had been kind of trodden into the dust a little bit. It had been overlicensed, it had been disrespected … It hadn’t been given the love it should have been. There was no life and soul in the products. Products need a beating heart, and I just knew there was so much potential there.”

On casting faces for Burberry’s ad campaigns: “I have to get to know them properly before we can work on something. It’s the way that I’ve always worked … and even in the shows I always try to make sure that I know the girls in the show, that I know what they’re doing. I try to make everything kind of small. I hate feeling intimidated, and I hate people feeling intimidated, so it’s important for me to get to know everybody … I’m working with somebody now. We’ve just shot a campaign which I can’t talk about, I’m sorry … Sorry, that was a really crap answer.”

On keeping Burberry a tight-knit company: “We have an internal social media site, which is called Burberry Chat. It’s a big global platform — it’s Facebook for Burberry, if you like. It’s basically where [CEO] Angela [Ahrendts] and I talk regularly, but it’s not just for us. It’s literally for everybody in the stores — everybody knows what’s going on.”

When told by Shulman, “You don’t look like a guy that sunbathes.”: “I thought I was quite olive-skinned … I’ve always felt quite Mediterranean. [Huge laugh from the audience.] No, I genuinely love British weather. I love the poetry of weather … We’ve had the most phenomenal weather the last couple of days — we’ve had crazy rain, then we’ve had hail, then we’ve had thunder and lightning, and there’s something very magical about it. There’s something very romantic and poetic about rain.”

On dry-stone walling: “It’s a complete joke in my family because I’ve always loved dry-stone walling, and I’ve waxed lyrical about it for years, and my father thinks it’s such a joke because I’m so puny. I keep saying I’m going to learn how to dry-stone wall, and all I’ve ever done is … watch people dry-stone wall.”

Christopher Bailey at British Vogue’s Festival