The common threads of fashion and interiors are rarely woven fast. But the heft of heritage brand Burberry has united with The New Craftsmen’s modern artisans to create a Makers House inspired by Burberry’s ‘September’ collection, celebrating the ‘methods, materials and makers‘ common to both creative endeavours.
Christopher Bailey’s collection displayed upstairs twists through a kaleidoscope inked in heritage and modernity, blotted with pattern and colour, bound in nature’s tracery… creating a new reality born of the moments that have gone before.Inspired by Virginia Woolf’s ‘Orlando’ whose evolution occurs within the protective walls of a grand house which is itself defined and changed by the people, clothes and cultures that inhabit it.
For Bailey September felt in many ways as though it emerged fully formed from the pages of the novel, that he describes as, a love letter to the past and to English history, yet also fiercely modern… it speaks to us today with utter clarity in its merging to male and female, of past and present, of the playful and the serious. Each show guest had a copy of Orlando on their seat, artisan printed and traditionally bound.
Onto this layered life he imprinted the spirit of Nancy Lancaster, who adored her houses (and gardens) more than her friends, and was apparently herself a strange combination of male and female. Burberry reimagined architectural elements from her celebrated Ditchley Park including ceilings and ornate plaster work, they shook out her beloved chintzes and repurposed garden parterres into set design and core September prints blending and blurring – fashion and interiors.
The hottest ticket in town (according to AD and many others) is a visit to Makers House, naturally itself a former book shop, because this collection and the exhibition’s success is about the wheels within wheels that spin through British design, the past re-worked, modernity embraced, the enduring power of craftsmanship and creativity celebrated.
Connections fizz between you the visitor, Burberry the brand, the makers’ present and the space itself. So that as you walk through the installations you are magically connected to a range of voices from the past stylishly re-imagined and fluidly re-interpeted by Burberry, Sue Skeen and The New Craftsmen.It is an open question in what sense Orlando can be said to have existed in the PRESENT moment…She turned back to the first page and read the date, 1586, written in her own boyish hand. She had been working at it for close three hundred years now. It was time ….She reviewed as if it were a great avenue of edifices, the progress of her own self along her own past.A biography is considered complete if it merely accounts for six or seven selves, whereas a person may well have several thousand.
So Orlando poured tea for them all…
This was the most delicious of all, to yield… ‘For nothing’ she thought, ‘is more heavenly than to resist and to yield; to yield and resist…she could not help bursting out again, How good to eat!
The stuff (flowered paduasoy) is the loveliest in the world… The whole assortment shall be lightly stitched together by a single thread… Memory runs her needle in and out… Mounting the spiral staircase into his brain which was a roomy one.As a child he was sometimes found at midnight … still reading …an old writing book, stitched together with silk stolen from his mother’s workbox, and labelled in round schoolboy hand,’ The Oak Tree, A Poem’.For she could write, and write she did. She wrote. She wrote. She wrote.Only to open a book for the whole accumulation to turn to mist.Nature who has played so many queer tricks upon us, making us so unequally of clay and diamonds…Lost its darkness.The Queen had come…He thrust on crimson breeches, lace collar, waistcoat of taffeta and shoes with rosettes on them as big as double dahlias.The white clouds had turned red, the hills were violet , the woods purple, the valleys black.He held that mixture of brown earth and blue blood.Hyacinths, magnolias, roses, lilies, asters, the dahlia in all its varieties, pear trees and apple trees and cherry trees and mulberry…her God was nature.the flower bloomed and faded… the lover loved and went… girls were rosesand just as the ivy and the evergreen rioted in the damp earth outside, so did the fertility show itself within.Never had the house looked more noble, more humane. Their-love making and child-bearing has left this…Orlando resolved henceforward to devote himself to the furnishing of the mansion.where the great wings of silence beat up and down the empty house.& The gallery stretched faraway to a point where the light almost failed. Orlando took a silver key from his pocket…She was only in the process of fabrication.touched this silk, that satin; fancied…a morning gown of sprigged cotton, a dove grey taffeta… a wine coloured brocade.For …There is much to support our belief that it is clothes that wear us… they mould our hearts… they change our view of the world and the world’s view of us.Had they both worn the same clothes, it is possible that their outlook might have been the same….’Madam’ the man cried, leaping the ground, ‘you’re hurt!”I’m dead, sir! she replied. A few minutes later they became engaged.The change… though it altered their future, did nothing whatever to alter their identity.‘I am alone’ said Orlando, aloud since there would be no one to hear her.
She crossed the narrow plank to the present…There was something definite and distinct about the age, which reminded her of the 18th century
She / He / I …managed to come to earth, taking a copy, a keepsake, some locket or relic…
the beautiful, glittering name fell out of the sky like a steel blue feather…NATURE. So my belief in magic returns.
Photos of Makers House taken by ADA. The energy at Makers House was magic, the thrill of people involved with it, the engagement of people visiting, I thanked Ros Wyatt afterwards for her inscription, her reply: my pleasure – this is the stuff of life.
Images from Burberry September catwalk collection from Vogue.com
Image of Burberry September campaign, shot by Mario Testino, online and in all good magazines now.
Images of the pre show seating and ‘Orlando’ books at the show, instagram @mongnica (seating) and @im_yirin (book)
Quotes from Christopher Bailey regarding the collection in italics.
Quote from Nancy Lancaster and from Cecil Beaton regarding her male/female duality in italics.
Quotes from Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, incorporated and played around with by me, in italics. NATURE a final addition as it plays such a role in the book.
Read Architectural Digest interview with Christopher Bailey here.
Read House and Garden’s What to See at Burberry’s Makers House here.