From a business point of view, Burberry is a gigantic techno-beast, surfing on a digital tsunami. But Christopher Bailey's particular skill is to balance the highest tech with the softest touch. His favorite inspirations seem to be gentle manifestations of British culture: handcrafts, mournful balladeers, watercolors, village greens…and the latest, the books he's been finding in flea markets, which may be the most charming yet. There was poetry in the faded colors and hand-drawn titles of those old book covers, made manifest in Prorsum's Resort collection, where almost everything was decorated with words. They were variations on a theme. Bad weather may be the great British cliché, but it's been a blessing for Bailey. "The magic and mayhem of British rain" scrolled across one item; "Rolling fields for rainfall and exploration" across another. It was a peculiar flourish, but oh-so-pretty. It was romantic, too, and that was the spirit that animated a trench in dip-dyed lace (how far the Burberry trench has traveled under Bailey!) or pencil skirts in fringes of raffia and petals of rags, also dip-dyed.

That long, lean silhouette is something the designer is partial to. It often feels like he's referencing British movies of the thirties and forties, when women dressed stiff-upper-lip sharp in wartime. It's an impression that was reinforced here by military details like the bellows pockets on a skirt or the military buttons marching up a sleeve. A softly tailored regimental coat and a nip-waisted safari jacket in cotton canvas elaborated on the story. And, for evening, a long dress with Delphic pleating also felt like a piece of vintage cinema. If nothing was as bold as the dishabille artist's muses in Bailey's Fall collection, there was still the sense here of a designer who is having a really, really good time steering the Burberry colossus into more colorful waters.