On Thursday 11th November, Christopher Bailey came to Chelsea to perform a Q & A session with the students participating in the Inside / Outside Project. He opened the session with an introduction.
"Be great designers, with attitude. Good design is expected, but it is how we communicate that design, which is equally, if not more important. There are lots of ideas out there and to make one stand out you need to have a razor sharp vision - what’s your point of view? The way designer’s articulate and communicate their designs is what sets them aside, it’s about finding your voice."
Lots of questions were posed from the audience which covered: craft and heritage; digital media; sustainability; and the project itself.
The big ‘sustainability’ word was flagged up through a question from the audience. Bailey explained that there are lots of ways to address this issue within the design process. They recycle or reuse their fabric remnants and have re-designed the layout and format of the Burberry HQ on Westminster with consideration to energy and material use. But, the most eco aspect of the brand is that their look books and marketing campaigns are paperless - they have gone digital.
Last year they launched The Art of the Trench, on online social media platform which archives images of the iconic trench coat past and present. In true street-style format, Scott Schulman from The Sartorialist and other top photographers were commissioned but the platform is also partly user generated. Visitors can submit their own images, as well as choose their favourite photos, comment on individual pictures and share them with others (via Facebook and other applications).
Another way to address sustainability is craftsmanship and The Art of the Trench documents how well-crafted and designed garments can transcend from one generation to the next, what we call here at TED 'long-life'. Another venture by Burberry that celebrates long-life garments, is Burberry Bespoke, that will launch next year, offering an online bespoke service for trench coats. This concept explores personalisation and extends the remit of the design process by opening it up to the individual.
Some students asked what the panel will be looking for when judging the Inside / Outside Project. The response - "that gut feeling and a sensory reaction to something. The passion will be reflected within your work, when someone invests their heart and soul into a project - it screams. Being mindful of your design and its place in the world helps, a 360 projection of where it fits in the world and how it will be used. What’s the bigger picture? How does it work / function in people's lives? "
I thought this was a fantastic Q & A session with honest, direct and inspirational responses to each question. I think behind Bailey’s genius and vision, lies a basic commitment to a powerful way of design thinking. This goes beyond being a fashion designer and is about using the power of design as a means of exploring new possibilities, creating new choices, and bringing new solutions into the world.
By Jen Ballie, TFRC PhD student