The Burberry Prorsum show today was a three-in-one affair: the physical
show in the park, the live stream to the company's new flagship store a few
miles away on Regent Street, and then the whole global digital fandango.
That's a vast gallery to be playing to, and there was a strong sense with
today's presentation that Christopher Bailey was ramping up the
entertainment value accordingly. "People are stopping work to watch," he
said. "You've got to give them a good reason."
"Corsets and Capes" was the theme of the day. Its initial expression was as a white cape over a swimsuit in ruched pink satin. The image was something from an old movie, the scene where Tallulah the kooky heiress throws a fur coat over her knickers and chases after her lover. Cinematic? It got more so. The progressively more elaborate iterations of the classic trench—from purest white through ruched pink and ombréd fuchsia to coppery lace and feathers—should earn the coat an Oscar for versatility. The finale featured trenches of many colors, "so intense," said the designer, "you could wring them out."
Bailey claimed he wanted to communicate "a very British glamour." For him, that appeared to reach its apex sometime in the 1940s. Here, there were tap shorts, peplums, wedge heels, slinky pencil skirts with kick pleats—and those capes and corsets, of course. That says something about where Burberry, whose history is so rooted in the practical, is headed—toward escapism. The new store is a giant techno-playground, and, as Bailey noted, the show today was about giving people a reason to watch. That's entertainment. Now we have to wait and see if it also gave them a reason to wear.