Huddersfield-based Kirklees College celebrated this month as Christopher Bailey, Chief Creative and Chief Executive Officer at Burberry and one of its former students, was awarded a prestigious Association of Colleges (AoC) Gold Award by Lord Willis of Knaresborough at the House of Commons.
Staff and students from Kirklees College were present at the awards ceremony which is held each year to celebrate the success of further education alumni as well as acknowledge the vital role that colleges play in the careers of the winners and of their continuing achievements.
Christopher was nominated by the college where he studied for a National Diploma in Fashion between 1987 and 1989.
Christopher Bailey is originally from Halifax, the son of a carpenter and a window dresser for Marks & Spencer. Following his time at the college, he graduated from the Royal College of Art with a Masters degree in 1994 and later received an honorary fellowship from the college in 2004.
From 1994 to 1996 he was the Womenswear Designer at Donna Karan and Senior Designer of Womenswear at Gucci in Milan from 1996 to 2001. He joined Burberry in May 2001 as Design Director and became Chief Creative Officer in November 2009 and has been credited with transforming the fortunes of the company.
In 2008, Christopher, alongside Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts, set up the Burberry Foundation, committed to dedicating global resources to help young people realise their dreams and achieve their goals and potential through their power and creativity. In May 2014, Christopher was appointed Chief Creative and Chief Executive Officer.
Christopher has won numerous awards and accolades over the years including winning the Designer of the Year at the British Fashion Awards in 2005, named as Menswear Designer of the Year at the British Fashion Awards in 2007,2008 and 2013. In 2007, he received an Honorary Doctorate of Science from the University of Huddersfield and in 2009 he was made an MBE.
On winning his award Christopher Bailey said,
“I am hugely honoured to accept this AoC Gold Award. It is incredibly humbling to get this kind of recognition but it’s really recognition of my teams. These awards give me the opportunity to thank them for their incredible partnership and everything that they do for the Burberry brand.
“I feel very fortunate that I was educated here in Britain and if I could offer one piece of advice to the students in the audience today at this very exciting time in their lives, it is to dream big and believe that anything is possible. You all have an incredible future ahead of you.”
Christopher was among eight former students whose careers have been positively influenced by their former Colleges. The other winners are Gloria de Piero MP – Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, Anton Piotrowski – Chef and winner of Masterchef the Professionals 2012, Martin Brundle – Formula One driver and TV presenter/commentator, Toni Pearce – President of the National Union of Students, Alan Rusbridger – Editor of The Guardian, Rob Forkan - Entrepreneur and founder of Gandys Flip flops and Dr Munira Mirza – London Deputy Mayor for Culture and Education.
To highlight the important role further education continues to play for today’s students, a ‘future star’ campaign is run alongside the Gold Awards. The nominating colleges each select a current student who shows promise in a similar field to their Gold Award winner. On this occasion, Kirklees College selected sisters who are both studying for a BA (Hons) Fashion Top-Up degree and they attended the award ceremony on Wednesday 11 June.
Anisa Soni (23) hopes to continue her education by progressing to a Master’s degree to further her ambitions to become an independent designer of tailored garments and print design. Anisa’s older sister, Hafeezah (25) also aspires to follow in Christopher Bailey’s footsteps by designing and creating garments and accessories that allow the wearer to feel empowered and unique.
Hafeezah said, “To be able to visit the House of Commons and be nominated for an AoC future star award has been an amazing opportunity that would not have been possible without the support and dedication from all the tutors and technicians throughout my learning journey.
“Having been nominated and then being given the honour alongside my sister a fellow nominee to go and collect the gold award for Christopher Bailey, one of my role models has been an incredible opportunity. I would like to thank the The AoC trust as it has given students like myself and also celebrating former successful students the ability to show anything is possible with hard work and support from wherever and whatever your background.”