WHEN Christopher Bailey emerges onto the catwalk at the end of a Burberry fashion show, the audience erupts with loud applause. However yesterday’s share price fall following his appointment as both chief executive and chief creative officer suggested a less warm reception. The 42-year-old Yorkshireman, who was described by outgoing Burberry boss Angela Ahrendts yesterday as “one of this generation's greatest visionaries” joined Burberry in 2001 at the age of just 29, after being hired by then-chief-executive Rose Marie Bravo. Eight years later he was promoted to chief creative officer, a role that includes designing more than 50 collections a year as well as laying out its stores and overseeing its ad campaigns, website and its social media strategy.
Together with Ahrendts he has helped restore Burberry’s reputation as a high-end luxury brand after it became a victim of its own success in the 1990s, when the mass market embraced its trademark check pattern. He has also brought in celebrity British names to its ad campaigns, helping to emphasise its heritage and turn the company into a model for other British brands with international aspirations.
A graduate from the Royal College of Art, Bailey joined Burberry from Gucci where he was senior designer of womenswear for five years. Prior to Gucci Bailey was the womenswear designer at Donna Karan.
He started his career as as window dresser at Marks and Spencer before graduating from the Royal College of Art with a Masters degree in 1994, and was awarded an MBE in 2009 for services to the fashion industry.