The morning after the Serpentine Summer Party dawned bright and blue, with no cloud in the sky. The day of the event itself, the heavens opened time after time, guaranteeing that the Gallery's grounds were well and truly sodden. But that's the English way, isn't it? This time, it kind of worked, because the evening's host was Burberry, the fashion empire founded on clothes designed to repel the elements. The rain also suited the style of the annual summer pavilion, the 11th in a series, designed this year by Swiss architect Peter Zumthor in the style of a long, black, inscrutable barracks, with a secret garden in its courtyard. And the vagaries of nature somehow complemented live performances from four bands (among them, One Night Only, with Burberry pinup boy George Craig) who've come to light through Burberry Acoustic, the initiative driven by Christopher Bailey to support new talent.
The Serpentine Party is famously the night when the London social season swings into full gear, so every form of partygoer was out in force—monied, starry, arty, poppy, fashion-y—many of them wearing their new summer dresses. But despite all the designers in attendance, it wasn't really a Met-scale fashion event. Sophia Hesketh was hanging proprietarily off Peter Dundas' arm in an Erdem dress, for Pucci's sake.
And the host branding was surprisingly muted. In YSL's year, there was a field of surreal wooden tulips; Cavalli laid on a caravansary of leopard-covered divans. Burberry's visibility was confined to an umbrella in the company's signature plaid. Which, in the circumstances, was exactly what was needed.