Christopher Bailey has begun to prove himself a master of mood. Autumnal leaves strewed Burberry's fall catwalk, and the bittersweet Housemartins played as the audience filed in. Then Bailey went and took inspiration from L.S. Lowry, an early twentieth-century artist from the north of England, who married salt-of-the-earth pragmatism with an almost whimsical innocence, much like Bailey himself. The designer claimed the artist's color palettedark, muddied shades from natureas well as his sturdy insularity, mirrored in clothes that had the low-key eccentricity of lives lived in places way off the beaten track. Hence, a cardigan whose heraldic motif could have been lifted from a candlewick bedspread in a country cottage. Likewise, another cardigan, crocheted from wool like the afghan that would have been draped over a sofa in that same cottage. And, in whatever village Bailey was conjuring, perhaps the young gents stepped out, as here, in silk pajama tops untucked over their pants. The people in Lowry's paintings were dubbed "matchstick men," due to their stick-figure simplicity, and the leanness of Bailey's cut turned his already slender mannequins into Lowry wraiths.
The antidote to such reduction was a winning streak of fantasy. A sweater spun from silvery hand-painted feathers shimmered like a woodland nymph. A trenchBurberry's signature item, rememberlooked like it was made from cowhide that had been dévoré-ed. Bailey insisted that the artisanal quality of the clothes was also part of his tribute to Lowry's detailed, idiosyncratic vision, but another point of view might prefer to believe that a rubber trench thrown over a gray lace shirt was pure twenty-first-century mash-up.