LONDON — Burberry has named Daniel Lee as its new creative director. After months of speculation, the news came less than 48 hours after a show by Italian designer Riccardo Tisci, a collection that proved to be his swan song with the British luxury house.
The appointment, announced on Wednesday, marks the return of a British designer to the top of Britain’s biggest luxury brand by sales. The company reported 2.8 billion pounds (now $3 billion) in revenue for the year ended April 2. It is also the most dramatic change in the house under its new CEO, Jonathan Akeroyd.
Mr. Lee, 36, was most recently creative director of Bottega Veneta from 2018 to 2021, when his abrupt departure from the Italian brand he had transformed into a hit machine shocked the fashion world and raised eyebrows. His appointment at Burberry comes six months after Akeroyd’s arrival, as Burberry seeks to reposition itself after lackluster success under Tisci and his former CEO, Marco Gobbetti (an Italian colleague).
Lee, who was born in Bradford in the north of England, will join Burberry on Monday and will oversee all of Burberry’s collections, according to a statement from the brand. He will present his first runway collection for Burberry during London Fashion Week in February.
“Daniel is an exceptional talent with a unique understanding of today’s luxury consumer and a strong track record of commercial success,” Akeroyd said in the statement, “and his appointment reinforces the ambitions we have for Burberry.”
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Mr. Lee, who has also worked at Maison Margiela, Balenciaga and Donna Karan and Celine, went from relative unknown to industry superstar in less than three years at Bottega Veneta, earning critical acclaim and industry awards. He sent sales skyrocketing thanks to his stylish shoe and bag designs, including a leather bag and square-toed woven heels. But despite his talent for commercial success, behind-the-scenes speculation continually bubbled over his employment practices. There was a high staff turnover and when he left the Italian label last November, no reason was given.
Mr. Tisci, who succeeded Christopher Bailey, is leaving Burberry after nearly five years, a period in which he sought to modernize its offerings and logo, as well as appeal to younger, more diverse customers. However, sky-high prices and sleek but soulless designs meant that Burberry never reached the heights expected by fans and investors alike, or that Mr. Tisci was able to create in his previous work at Givenchy. Burberry had also lost the link to its British heritage that had set it apart from all the other big luxury brands.
His spring collection, which was supposed to show during London Fashion Week, was postponed after the death of Queen Elizabeth II. Instead, the event took place on Monday, prompting much of the fashion industry to return from shows in Milan and Paris for a presentation that had a decidedly grim air.
Mr Akeroyd, previously CEO of Versace and Alexander McQueen, has expressed since his arrival earlier this year his desire for a greater emphasis on Burberry’s British character. And Mr. Lee is considered one of the greatest British design talents in the world.
Luca Solca, a luxury analyst at research firm Sanford C. Bernstein, noted that Mr. Lee “has shown the ability to create a highly successful new chapter for Bottega Veneta, particularly with shoes and bags, and so far Burberry has had trouble making its mark in these categories and creates high-profile, iconic products.”
On Wednesday, Mr. Lee said in the Burberry statement that he was very excited to return to London.
“It’s a city that champions pioneering creativity and continues to inspire me,” he said. “Together with the team, we will write the exciting next chapter for this legendary British luxury brand.”