• Text Louis Gabriel
  • 18th September 2017

Check, mate

As a marker of Britain’s visual vocabulary, Burberry’s iconic check is prominent. Here, in the newly restored Old Sessions House in Clerkenwell, that check was placed alongside renowned social portraits depicting Britain in all its diverse glory. Photography by the likes of Martin Parr, Karen Knorr, Shirley Baker and Ken Russell (and also a special collaborative shoot between Gosha Rubchinskiy and Burberry), lined the walls as part of the brand’s new exhibition, Here We Are.

“They provide a portrait of British life, in all its nuances, both exceptional and mundane, beautiful and harsh. It’s the spirit of those photographs – sometimes ironic, sometimes tender, always truthful – that has guided our September collection,” said Christopher Bailey of the exhibition. “Together they will form an exhibition in our new show space, celebrating a very British way of life and way of dressing.”

Delving into the Burberry archives, Bailey put his own spin on these contrasting traits of British life. Sharp, classic tailoring came paired with rubberised raincoats – very Patrick Bateman – in a variety of bold pastel colours, long skirts crafted in English lace walked alongside John Lydon-esque tartan trousers and equestrian detailing brushed shoulders with terrace culture streetwear.

Repurposing classics as contemporary cuts, military jackets were reimagined as mini skirts and Irish tartans, Argyle and Shetland knits were all spliced into mini skirts, sleeveless knits and high-waisted trousers. Oh, and Burberry’s iconic check – that one made infamous by chav culture – made a major comeback, across baseball caps, overcoats, capes and oversized bags. After all what sums up those contrasting British values more than burberry’s iconic check, like Andy Warhol once said about Coca-Cola, it unites a nation. It’s the link between Katie Price and the Queen.