The once unstoppable Burberry juggernaut has hit some speed bumps of late, so when Christopher Bailey called his new Burberry collection "I ♥ Classics," it suggested he could be about to propose something surefire commercial. And the company's confidence was clearly evident in the backdrop for the show, which placed Burberry's spectacular Regent Street flagship alongside revered London landmarks such as Big Ben and St. Paul's Cathedral. Hubris, or what?
Well, actually, it was what. Maybe it was the challenge of downturn that uncorked Bailey's subversive side, but most of the so-called classics that paraded down Burberry's catwalk were unhinged in some way. It was quite masterful, though it was also predictable in the grand scheme of fashion's call-and-response rhythm. Last season was sheeny-metallic-futurism, so this season went primitive. Sort of. Animal prints were all over the details: pointy leopard shoes, a tiger lapel on a tech-fabric jacket, some zebra. And yes, there was a conventionally pleasing camel duffel coat, but another coat in camel had a black leather revers.
It was in the outerwear—where Burberry traditionally makes its strongest stand—that the twists in the new collection made themselves most obvious. The classic trench? Check it out in lustrous pony. And if that is tweaking your sensual side, by all means proceed to the same coat in a shivery latex. There were heart-printed shirts to reflect the theme of the collection—and those hearts showed through the rubber—but Bailey's latex pointed to a gratifying acknowledgment of idiosyncrasy in the heart of a ginormous fashion industry.