CHIARA: As a chief creative director of Burberry you take care of the image of the brand
from different point of views including advertising campaign, direction of the
company, and of course all the Burberry creations of the collection and pieces. What is
your real passion among all these tasks? If you could just choose one of these activities
would it be creating the collection or you are also interested in something else right
CHRISTOPHER: Well this is a difficult question, I love the fact that I work with
everything that has to do with the brand, the product, the environment, the online,
the architecture, the web design, because I am somebody that loves making things,
making experiences, creating things that people love to engage with. So it would be
very difficult if I had to choose one, I can’t decide, it’s impossible. I love fashion, I love
architecture and I love image making so if I can, I would put all these three in one pot.
CHIARA: Yes I understand, so it’s not just the creative procession of a collection.
CHRISTOPHER: I love the creative process of the research, development, but I love also
when it comes to reality, it has to be an experience. I don’t care if it is an experience
while you are trying something on, whether you are in a physical place, or whether you
are online kind of playing, I love that you can create stories and atmospheres wherever
CHIARA: Nice answer! Burberry now has a big range of products; do you
think there is a big main theme among all these different categories and if yes is it
difficult to keep it or it becomes really natural with the brand.
CHRISTOPHER: Yes I think it becomes really natural with the brand, we kind of split the
collection in three different areas: there is Prorsum which is kind of real fashion that
moves everything forward, Burberry London that is a little bit more urban, that you
might wear when u need something if you go to work, its something that you can wear
in town cities, while Brit is more something that you can wear over the weekend, and
is more relaxed.
CHIARA: What did Burberry mean to you when you started working in the company
and what does Burberry mean to you right now?
CHRISTOPHER: When I first started working for Burberry I new the company very well
because it was part of my culture; you now by being British you kind of grow with
it. My grandfather had a trench coat so that was probably my first interaction with
Burberry and than it kind of just becomes part of you.
What it means to me right now, it means lots of different experiences: it gave me the
most incredible life, I have been able to meet wonderful people, I have been able to
work with incredible team and to kind of do a dream job, to take something that has
this magical history and this incredible heritage and to be able to bring to it in our
generation. We kind of give it to it a point of view that has relevance today.
CHIARA: This is the first woman’s boutique in Milan and is the first flagship store
dedicated to the woman collection like Burberry Prorsum, Burberry London and
Burberry Brit, accessories, glasses watches and fraguences, is this new store inspired
by the Regent Street store which was just inaugurated in London?
CHRISTOPHER: Yes, the opening of the Regent Street store was kind of a defining
moment for the brand. There you can find all the different worlds that we have, it
is basically the kind of physical version of everything that we have online. What we
wanted to do in Milan in this store in Montenapoleone is just kind of take these two
collections, Prorsum and London, and all the bags, shoes and put all in one place, using
all the elements and the craft pieces that we have developed for the Regent Street
store. We wanted this kind of authentic living piece of Britain in Montenapoleone. It is
such a thrill to be in this street; you know Milan is like a second home for me as I spent
a lot of time here and I still spend a lot of time here, so being here is a real thrill.
CHIARA: Of course I have been to the Regent Street store and I’ve had the feeling that
the digital world was really meeting the real world, and it was such an unbelievable
project. How did you come up with the idea of that store, what was your biggest goal
when you where thinking about it.
CHRISTOPHER: The goal was kind of this physical world meeting this virtual world, and
the merging of those two different worlds. We wanted to play in that store, we wanted
to push boundaries, we have things like radio frequency identification where you can
put a bag, lift up a bag or put on a trench coat and in the mirror all the videos change
and you can see how that coat was worn on the runway or how that bag was made.
We wanted to have lots of things that were animations where you just kind of explore
and kind of immerse yourself into these different worlds. You know sometimes it is
wonderful just to shop but sometimes you just want to enjoy things and watch people,
so we wanted the store to be somewhere where you can just sit down and enjoy the
CHIARA: From 1 to 10, how is it important to you the store design?
CHRISTOPHER: if you consider 10 being the most important, I would say 20!! It is really
important, it is important that people feel relaxed, comfortable and welcomed and that
is not intimidating and that it means something to the brand. For example, in this store
all the woodwork is done by UK craft people as well as the furniture, which is also
coming from the UK. We try to put all the collection in an environment where the video
and all the present content all relate so that you feel coming into a world and explore
CHIARA: Well you can really see that. You are doing such a great job!
CHRISTOPHER: Oh Thank you!
CHIARA: Is it difficult to coordinate the heritage of a brand with the innovation of a
collection and its big presence online?
CHRISTOPHER: It’s not difficult, it’s exiting. I love this, you know it’s really what the
British culture is about, these contradictions, formality mixed with innovation, things
that kind shouldn’t be together.
I love this idea of the contradiction of this authentic historic heritage of a brand 156
years old, mixed with piny ring technology and new ways of communicating. I feel that
this position makes it exiting and makes it relevant as well. Cause I think that we all
want something that is familiar and something that is true but I also think that we all
want to move forward.
CHIARA: I know that digital activities is at the core of Burberry strategic plans, when
did you start to understand the big power of the Internet world?
CHRISTOPHER: I think there was never a light ball moment. We sometimes describe
ourselves as an old young company; well old because it’s historic, and young because
it’s a very young team, so it would be count intuitive to bring online world at work. We
all live online, well especially you, your job is based online, so it would be kind of wired
if we do everything online in our private life but when we come to work we all shut it
down! What we felt is that we were talking to a younger consumer, a younger person
that wanted to experience the brand therefore you have to talk in that language, and
its a language that seats very comfortable with the core of the brand.
CHIARA: Why do you think there is still such a big difference between Burberry and the
other luxury brands, digitally speaking? How come Burberry started working on the
web such a long time ago before all the other brands?
CHRISTOPHER: I guess we never tried to follow what everyone else was doing; we really
wanted to do what felt right for us. Everyone has to follow his or her own journey
and for us it was just very natural to follow a digital technology journey. But for some
people its not important, they come from a very different background and maybe they
don’t see how exiting it is. You know for me its the same, is just another platform, I
love creating physical spaces, I love creating furniture and I love creating products
and clothes and bags, but I also love creating experiences online and that way of
communicating. This is something incredibly stimulating about the fact that you can
create something and than you press one button and the whole world can suddenly
see it. It’s a vey kind of modern phenomena and I am intrigued by it.
CHIARA: If you could pick someone from the past to be the testimonial of the brand,
who would you chose? Is there someone that you prefer or that you think would be the
CHRISTOPHER: Norman Parkinson wife is an extraordinary woman, very beautiful and
cleaver, so I think she could be the one.
CHIARA: I have also red that Burberry just launched with Britain a new collection of
watches for men and women to celebrate the 156 years of history of the brand. It is a
collection compound by four different movements shot by Mario Testino in London
with a cast of British upcoming talents. Why have you decided to create a collection of
watches for this occasion?
CHRISTOPHER: I felt that we didn’t have a watch that had the kind of sincerity of the
trench coat. I felt that we had a very strong seasonal watches collection and but we
needed to develop one that really set the same attitude and philosophy of the trench
coat, that is one piece for men and for women and that it can go for day to evening
to casual to smart, kind of touch all the world; something that had a little bit more of
classic and timeless design but still feels very British.
With the ad campaign, what I tried to do there is to show different characters coming
from different worlds, Gabriella who is an actress, Rob who is a musician and Harry
who is an art dealer.
CHIARA: The testimonial represents the different model through on their personality?
CHRISTOPHER: Yes, the people and the images kind of represent the different worlds,
whether you are in a very formal world like the art world, very classical, or if you are
in a rock band, its still the same watch and it just kind of adapt the different worlds.
CHIARA: Is there a watch that you prefer among these? Or you like all of them?
CHRISTOPHER: I like the chronographer with the black alligator strap.
CHIARA: My last question: I would really like my followers to know about the Burberry
Foundation, I know it was created by you and Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendt in 2008. Could you
explain me what is it exactly?
CHRISTOPHER: Yes this is a wonderful question! We set up this foundation to empower
young people with their creativity, to try to give a helping hand to young people who
maybe are not living a very happy or with privileged life. We want to really open
up someone’s mind, not everything is academic based. You know, creativity can
empower lots of very exiting journeys in life and you can develop your character, your
personality, your future, if you learn how to think in a creative way and that does not
matter whether you are doing something typically creative like design or if you are in
business with numbers, you can still have a vey creative mind set. It was all based on
creativity and design thinking and empowering people underprivileged.
CHIARA: This is fantastic, how did you come up with this ides? And did you make a
change for some of these young talents? What does make you think the fact that you
probably made a change in their lives?
CHRISTOPHER: It’s very humbling. It’s one of the most fulfilling things that we do at
Burberry. You know, we are very lucky, we work with incredibly talent people and we
can create lots of different things such as film or coat, bag, building or an experience
online. However I have to say that when you are working with these young people
that really have king of nothing going on in their lives, there is nothing behind their
eyes, but then when you show them a different way of thinking and they discover
huge talents, seeing the smiles in their faces is the biggest reward you can get. We
have hired so many of these young talents. It is the most rewording thing that anyone
of us do. It was something that we felt that as the company was growing, the brand
was getting bigger and stronger, we wanted to give back in the communities that we
work in. We also considered the fact that not everyone has a lucky and privileged
background and I am not talking only financial wise but even the support that you
might get, and if we are able to give that support and kind of hold people hands while
they go through their difficult journey in their lives than we are very lucky to be able to
CHIARA: Thank you so much. I really think my followers will be very interested
to know about the foundation.
CHRISTOPHER: I am very happy to hear about that and if you have any more question
about the foundation please don’t hesitate to ask, we would be more that happy to give
all the information you need. This project is really brilliant; it is about all of us giving
back, its culture. This project is not just money, yes of course we raise money to help
these young underprivileged kids, but we also give a lot of time, and often time is more
important than the money.
CHIARA: Thank you very much. Can I ask one more thing? A picture together?
CHRISTOPHER: Of course!! Thank you so much!