The good ship Burberry continues its steady manoeuvre into solidly British waters with the launch of an eponymous book. The linen-covered, trench-coat emblazoned tome signals Burberry’s continued transition away from the sleek European minimalism of its former designer Riccardo Tisci, back to the roots of its British heritage under designer Daniel Lee.
Is there a book about Burberry? There is now.
23rd March 2023
Burberry has committed its storied history to a coffee table book for the first time. Written by fashion historian and journalist Alexander Fury, and published by Assouline, the book takes readers on an adventure into the history of the house, and shares its unique expression of Englishness with material from the Burberry archive and beyond.
One thing Burberry has that many other modern brands can only dream of – apart from, perhaps, Louis Vuitton – is a rich yet practical history that begins with one man, Thomas Burberry, and his innovative gift to the world: inclement weather proof gabardine.
This coated cotton twill fabric provides both the historical foundation for the Burberry story, and shapes its continued evolution as a fashion house thanks to gabardine’s ongoing production in Castleford, Yorkshire, and its use for Burberry garments today.
In this richly illustrated book, author Alexander Fury, a sharp-eyed fashion journalist, historian and critic, chronicles 165 years of the house from 1856 when Burberry was a family run fabric company, to today’s incarnation as a renowned global luxury brand.
Carly Eck, Brand Curator of the Burberry archive, says the process of researching the 200 images for the book, the first to be endorsed by the brand in recent times, was akin to “unearthing a dormant treasure trove, [with] countless gold nuggets..revealed.”
The story is told in five parts. Key milestones detailed include the Burberry equestrian knight logo – recently reintroduced by Daniel Lee – which contains the Latin word Prorsum, produced in 1901 and trademarked in 1909; Ernest Shackleton in 1914 and George Mallory, during his attempt to climb Mount Everest in 1924, both wearing the brand.
Before we reach the heights scaled by the 21st Century incarnation of Burberry - and its at times infamous check - with designer Christopher Bailey, we learn about the birth of the trench coat during the First World War; King George V’s appointment of a Royal Warrant for tailoring in 1919, and the continued production of ready-to-wear in the 1940s.
Today the Burberry story is being rewritten in real time with CEO Jonathan Ackroyd and Chief Creative Officer Daniel Lee, whose catwalk show at London Fashion Week last month set a new British-focused style agenda for the house.
Outdoorsy functionality and British humour – a duck hat anyone? - were woven into the luxurious garments on show, and also saw the reintroduction of the Burberry Knight, resplendent in electric blue. While the guest list for the show was strictly A-list, the after show party took place in a traditional British pub.
Burberry retails at £150/$195/€195 and is available for pre-order at assouline.com now. It will be available at Burberry and Assouline stores and online from 28 March 2023.