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'Indians have a serenity about them’

Christopher Bailey, the chief creative officer of one of the world’s most iconic brands, on why his trip to India has been long overdue.

fashion and trends Updated: Dec 17, 2010 18:42 IST
Vinod Nair
Vinod Nair
Hindustan Times

I love the weather in Mumbai. When I was boarding the plane in London, it was freezing there and here, it’s all sunny and nice. This is something I’ve been planning for over 20 years,” mentions Christopher Bailey, chief creative officer of the British label Burberry. Recently in Mumbai to host a party which was attended by celebrities like Shilpa Shetty, Preity Zinta and Kangna Ranaut, Bailey adds, “I have several Indian friends in London and I have always wanted to come here. But something or the other always came up and I just couldn’t make it. I am here finally, though it’s for work. But I want to come here on a holiday very soon.”

Mention to him that his is the first luxury brand to bring its head designer to India and he responds, “Isn’t that great! I am here to see our stores and the country and its people. Indians always fascinated me- there’s a kind of serenity about them and I love the cuisine and the culture.”

One of the youngest heads of a prestigious fashion house in the world, Bailey admits that he’s honoured to be given that kind of responsibility at his age. “Though I’m not that young,” he counters. “I’m just sitting in the sun so you can’t spot my gray hairs.”

Admitting that he likes to involve himself with every aspect of his work, Bailey reveals, “I am involved in everything from designing clothes and accessories to our campaigns, advertising and digital activities. I’ve also had the opportunity to design our new global headquarters in London, US headquarters at Madison Ave in New York and the new head office in Ginza, Tokyo.”

The designer also promotes young talented musicians using the brand platform called Burberry Acoustics. “I use their music for shows and events and I have had people coming and asking me, where I source the music from?,” he laughs. Quiz Bailey about his inspiration in the design room and he retorts, “It isn’t one particular country, object or culture that inspires me, it’s traces of various things put together. I also don’t believe in making things so as to suit a particular market or its culture. I feel both the culture and what is being offered should co-exist, like a trench coat worn over a sari. In fact, I saw a lady wearing a wonderful sari carrying a Burberry bag.”

Adding that he needs to balance the traditional with the modern when designing, Bailey says, “Ours is a brand that’s over 150 years old and we have constantly adapted ourselves to the changing times, whilst keeping the age-old tradition and brand values intact.”

His colleague Tom Ford became almost as famous as Gucci, the brand he worked for. So does Bailey count himself in the same league? “I worked with Tom while I was with Gucci and I think he is a great person and I have learned a lot from him. Same was the case when I worked with Donna Karan. For me, the brand is most important. I like to be behind the curtains and I want the brand to speak for itself.”

First Published: Dec 15, 2010 13:30 IST