It's goodbye to Marianne Faithfull, and hello to HRH Princess Margaret. That was how Christopher Bailey deftly swiveled Burberry in a new direction for spring, with less rock and more royalty. "I wanted to be a bit more refined and grown-up," he said. "So I imagined a young English girl dressing as if she was an old-fashioned deb." One is now going out in duchesse satin coats and gold brocade trenches rather than Afghan jackets, my dear. And sixties hippie smocks have been replaced by neat little seventies high-belted dresses balanced on patent platforms. It was all a timely bit of posh, but nothing too slavishly retro. Princess Margaret was never seen running round in this sort of knitted hat.
Burberry is part of Britain's social fabric past and present, and that's what Bailey is playing with so successfully these days. The Margaret angle, lightly referenced, is his clever way of steering the label upscale (there's been a lot in the British press about the populist embrace of the Burberry check recently). It also creates a new proportionshort and A-line, with stacked heelsthat's looking increasingly right this season. His choice of colorpalest beige, toffee, plaster pink, yellow, and antiqued goldadds another timely layer of class.
Rummaging around in the Burberry archive, Bailey recently unearthed early seventies advertising pages shot by the queen's suave photographer cousin, Lord Lichfield. The images inspired updates of the house's evergreen trenchone, gorgeously fitted in caramel iguana, others with caped sleeves. He also trotted out a belt-and-buckle print that now reappears on dresses. All in all, a jolly good show.