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.”