September 19 is the date Burberry is set to shake the fundamentals of the fashion industry by becoming the first major designer brand to present clothes on the runway that consumers can then immediately buy in stores and online. As it turns out however, consumers won't have to until five weeks from now to get their first glimpse of the collections. What good news for impatient people!
Today, the label unveiled a glimpse at the ad campaign for the collection as well as a healthy dose of details about the clothing and what people can expect from the show. Which, in and of itself, is another radical departure for an industry that prefers to keep details as mum as possible until the curtain rises. Burberry's chief creative officer Christopher Bailey is putting his inspiration out there weeks ahead of time.
“This campaign reflects a collection inspired by Virginia Woolf's "Orlando" and also sets out to honor the many skilled craftspeople who work on Burberry's iconic products," the designer said in a statement.
Woolf's "Orlando" chronicles a gender-shifting and sexually fluid noble who lives for more than 300 years and is frequently tasked with readjusting to modern times. It's perhaps a nod to society's changing attitudes on gender, and, the more basic fact that the show will be the first time that Burberry shows men's and women's clothes on the same runway.
Don't worry if you've never actually read the book. You now have more than enough time to breeze through the 134-page novel before the show so you too can sit there knowingly when the collection debuts. (Or you can sit through the Sally Porter movie adaptation starring Tilda Swinton. The labyrinth scene alone is iconic.)
The accompanying campaign will feature young Brits including models Jean Campbell and Alex Dragulele and Swim Deep bassist Cavan McCarthy shot by Mario Testino. The preview ad is already running in some publications, and the campaign will be unveiled in full after the show. Meanwhile, Vogue also got an extended sneak-peak of the line in a spread shot by Annie Lebowitz if you need to see more.
The show will also see the debut of what the house surely hopes will be it's next "It Bag." Dubbed, The Bride, the bag is said to take style notes from classic British equestrian designs and is meant to be worn by both men and women.
The full ad campaign will feature portraits of Burberry's in-house artisans, and the brand is collaborating with The New Craftsmen, a company that promotes the products of British craftsmen. Indeed, the show's venue will be dubbed the “Makers House." For a week after Bailey and his models take their bow, the venue will continue to play host to a rotating series of crafty Brits while they create new items inspired by the collection.
The second image release Burberry brings both themes together. It features Campbell touting the unisex bag on one side, while Piero Calosi, the pattern make for the bag, is posed on the other.
"Just as Virginia Woolf's Orlando is both a love-letter to the past and a work of profound modernity, this week-long exhibition aims to nod both to the design heritage that is so integral to Burberry's identity, and to some of Britain’s most exciting creators, and the innovation and inspiration behind their work," adds Bailey.
So, apparently the "see now, buy now" concept is not meant to create a sense of mystery or surprise. Consumers might not end up seeing the full collection until mid-September, but the house's planned leaks should give everyone a good sense of what to expect when the models actually take to the runway.
Christopher Bailey interviewed during his Burberry Fall 2016 show.