No, I didn’t go to India – it was classic Bohemia and it just happened!” said Christopher Bailey as the last mirror-embroidered jacket disappeared in a haze of metallic confetti at the Burberry Prorsum men’s show.
This was a very fine presentation because Bailey pulled off a camouflage-meets-art nouveau look to men’s tailoring. It brought colour, pattern and texture into a Bohemian rhapsody – without breaking out of a youthful silhouette of skinny trousers and jackets from pea coats to bombers.
The Burberry show at London Collections: Men was a text-book vision of branding – and it suggests that things have only got better since Bailey took over management of the entire company, rather than just its fashion side.
With a heritage in the British military, a hippy-de-luxe vision might seem an uncomfortable fit. But Bailey put his models in eye-glasses, picked up his coloured crayons and made the collection seem credible.
It all started with the rigour of the floor and its black-and-white tiles. Or maybe with a live music performance by Clare Maguire. There is always the sense at Burberry that the brand has an over-arching vision in the way it shows – its pace, music and front row – as well as what it shows.
Out came the studious-looking hipsters (no long hippy hair, of course) carrying colourful tote bags and often with shirts, jackets or fringed shawls that were also juicy with colour and rich in small patterns. In these Woodstock-for-business outfits there was nothing to unhinge Burberry’s vision, yet plenty to desire as individual items.
At a time when a back-to-the-Seventies look has already become a fashion cliché, Bailey made clothes for real. The outfits were mannish, wearable and desirable – a fine lesson to other designers taking a more familiar hippy trail.