This year, Britain officially had the dullest summer recorded since 1929. With August rainfall over 40 percent higher than average, it was about as miserable as anyone can remember, except possibly for the makers of raincoats, like Burberry. You could see how that big washout might have seeped into Christopher Bailey's consciousness when the first girl advancing along the runway looked from a distance like a survivor of Bestival, the Isle of Wight's recent storm-drenched music event. There she was, trudging home with apparently sodden flares, a rain-soaked cape, and a patchwork crusher hat jammed firmly down on her forehead.
Bailey called the collection "Garden Girls," and said he'd been inspired by his own garden in Yorkshire, and a Thames & Hudson book on eccentric Brits called Garden Peoplenever types to be daunted by a bit of mud. To turn that thought into a collection, Bailey worked tints of ochers, browns, and mossy greens into a slew of fabrics, skinny cardigans, boyfriend pantsuits, and leather that looked as if it had all been treated to a good downpour.
Among the dip-dyed and crinkled effects, there were some great items. Anyone who jumped on Burberry's flares last season will love this Spring's extreme version: the shrink-to-the-leg cheesecloth trouser that made a clever compromise between sheer leggings and a pant. Fans of Bailey's super-deluxe trenchesa feature of his last three showswill also be more than happy with the update: dull steel-gray python, sometimes richly embellished with paillettes running up from the hem. Still, although Bailey worked up to brighter gold brocades and gunmetal lamé in the closing passages, the show could have benefited from a sunnier outlook for next summer, and a stricter edit.