Take the long view on Burberry
's collections and it becomes clear how Christopher Bailey is ticktocking his way through a comprehensive compendium of British style. Among the high-low archetypes he's corralled over recent seasons: the J. Arthur Rank starlet, the Mayfair tart, and the English rose. Pre-Fall turned to an inspiration that is as iconic as the Burberry trench—the Arts and Crafts movement from the late 19th century, evoked by densely textured jacquards, tapestry brocade accessories, velvet appliqués, and a William Morris-like print of flowers and leaves in distinctly autumnal shades. The richness was compounded by effects like over-embroidered lace, a three-dimensional Lurex jacquard, and the dull gleam of silken jacquards woven on traditional tie looms (the latest variant on Bailey's commitment to old British crafts). If the collection teetered at times on the brink of too much (not hard, with heels as high as some of these were), Bailey reined things in with long, lean silhouettes, softened them with a cocoon coat in angora, and lightened them with a print lifted from the London A-Z. He cannily nodded to Burberry's international markets with a set of graphics based on landmark structures like the Chrysler Building and Shanghai's World Financial Center, but the last, lingering look was pure London. It was a long chiffon gown in a leafy print, topped with a shearling jacket. Glamorously casual, just made for an Ormsby-Gore
which meant that Bailey could add Chelsea girl to his list of gorgeous archetypes.