"She's a luxury warrior. It's a bit more rock," said Christopher Bailey, laughing. "I've been listening to a lot of Deep Purple and Iron Maiden." Well, you could feel the vibe. This was the sexiest version of Burberry yet, all ruched chiffon, leather belts studded with military medallions, and stacks of chain bracelets—an accurate riff on nineties body-con dressing and the stirrings of the heavy-metal revival that's coming out of London. In Bailey's hands, though, it scrubbed up remarkably. Never a down-and-dirty club kid, the designer knows how to pick his way through a theme at Burberry and play it to an international audience like a pro.

Essentially it was a collection of short, highly worked chiffon, tulle, and organdy dresses, under puffy peplumed jackets and an array of lightweight coats that ran from rockin' to super-rich. The house trench has segued into an "armadillo" hourglass silhouette with a built-up shoulder line of triple-layered storm flaps and pocket details to emphasize the hips. A butter-soft ivory leather coat came aerated with perforations, and a papery white coat was edged with thick crunchy bands of granulated beads. Somewhere along the way, the collection picked up a passing sense of the Tom Ford years at Gucci (where Bailey, remember, cut his teeth as a designer), or maybe of the high Versace times (a bright turquoise neoprene coat came with black crisscross lacing to nip the waist; a gunmetal coat was laden with a tracery of studs).

The point, though, is how easily it all separates out into pieces: pretty-edgy for those who like it that way, pretty-normal for others, with a slew of strong accessories as optional extras. That's Christopher Bailey's skill, and the essence of Burberry's ongoing success.