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Burberry's Grand Opening Was Bloody Fantastic; A Quick Q&A With Christopher Bailey

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[Partial Photo Credit: James Atkins Photography]

The Burberry grand opening party began innocuously enough, in (mostly) typical, buttoned up British style. Though the energy surrounding the five-story glass and novacheck behemoth buzzed, the preparation of the massive event celebrating The Art of the Trench was surprisingly calm: walkie talkie-clad women and men in chic Burberry-sponsored wares communicated to one another Secret Service style; workers efficiently and merrily set up and rolled out the Burberry beige carpet; black trench coat wearing male models flanked the Michigan Avenue entrance, and in unison, opened black umbrellas at the order of their "leader." But nothing was rushed or hurried--you would never know that one of Chicago's biggest and hottest parties of the year was about to take place.

In the press pit, we patiently waited to see some of the Burberry luminaries that have changed fashion and changed the face of the brand. Instead we saw Burberry clients flown in from New York; social folks from parties past; Billy Zane and Art Smith; your Racked editors styled by The Haute Spot and Gallery Aesthete; Richard Gamble of Chicago magazine and others. Then, it happened. There he was. There he stood--the dashing, affable young Brit who singlehandedly reinvented the brand. The man who took hold of Burberry and repositioned it back onto its proper British throne--Christopher Bailey. He beamed as he walked the step and repeat like a proud papa. He even gave us a few soundbites:

The Pit: Why trench coats?
Christopher Bailey: That's our heritage.Trench coats are essential to our history and our DNA. It's what makes Burberry.

Pit: Tell us about the building.
CB: We've been working on the building for about 18, 24 months. We developed this facade specifically for Chicago. It's taken us a long time to get it right, and we wanted a landmark building in such a beautifully architectural city.

Pit: Why did you pick Chicago as opposed to any other city in the states?
CB: You know, Chicago has a real understanding of our brand and our DNA. You guys need a lot of outerwear and a lot of coats because of your weather, and we have this incredible site here on Michigan, and so we had the opportunity to build something strong and architectural.

Pit: What are you looking forward to over the holidays?
CB: Over the holidays? I'm looking forward to spending time with my family and my friends.

Racked Chicago: What was the inspiration and idea behind the World Live stores?
CB: We wanted to basically connect everybody using the [Burberry fashion] content, and inspire them using our history and our heritage, but also with the modernity of the fashion.

Once inside, it seemed as if all of the remnants of the newly unveiled Burberry store were thrown out the window. 633 N Michigan had become a swanky nightclub. Guests sipped Veuve Clicquot and munched on canapes by The Entertaining Company. Everyone and their mother seemed to pack into the store. Though the store is five stories and occupies massive (not to mention expensive) real estate on Michigan Avenue, the inside was packed to the gills. Then it really started to feel like a nightclub.

At a midpoint in the evening, we were all told to head to the street level for the musical performance. Carl Barat and The Libertines brought Burberry's proper English house down with their stellar musical set. Their strong vocals and powerful bass and percussion got the entire store dancing. Strobe lights, spotlights and what looked like fireworks lit up the stage in what we would definitely call an incendiary performance. Christopher Bailey himself had a great time dancing directly behind us and chatting us up during the performance. Bonus! After a relatively long set, say about 30 minutes, Carl and The Libertines put away their instruments, but we continued to rock out with DJ Matt Roan's hot tunes. All of this while Art of the Trench participants were flashed onto giant screens throughout the store.

The party was supposed to end at 10:30PM, but lasted one hour longer than scheduled. As everyone filed out of the glitzy scene, happily wasted and content with an evening well spent, we took a look around. We noticed that the pristine carpet was no longer bright beige, but a dingy gray. Expensive champagne glasses were tipped over and half eaten canapes in real linen napkins lay lonely on a tray. But as sad as that sounds, it's just a reminder of how fabulous the night turned out to be.
· Burberry [Official Site]
· Burberry Bonanza 2012 [Racked]
· All Burberry coverage [Racked]


633 N Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60606