"I was thinking of sixties London, Marianne Faithfull, and Yorkshire, where I come from," were the words an overwhelmed Christopher Bailey managed to emit before disappearing under an avalanche of well-wishers and TV cameras after his show. Bombarding him from all sides, the accolades were heartfelt: What the boy is doing at Burberry Prorsum is a lovely, straight-up Brit-mix of classics understandable the world over.

Perching on plaid stools, like country house guests at a grouse moor picnic, Bailey's audience was treated to a rendition of Ossie Clark-style print Empire-line dresses, brass-buttoned military-influenced coats, tweedy plaids, and layerings of striped knits and scarves. His talent is that he makes it all look light, contemporary, and accessibly ageless, which is never easy when dealing with the potentially lumpen basics of British retro. Bailey's knack is gently modernizing and morphing the standards, like putting flare into a pea coat, or fusing a Mongolian lamb edging onto a tan leather jacket, and fastening it with horn duffel coat toggles. His dresses, too, go one better than mere reproductions of the ethnic vintage smocks and scrappy flower-print dresses young girls are currently snapping up at Portobello market. Burberry's versions come in finely pleated chiffons, oak leaf and flower prints, or beautiful panne velvet, and when he adds knee-high cross-laced Victorian boots, and tosses a coat on top, it's an irresistible look.