Christopher Bailey’s commitment to British creativity at Burberry is like a folksier version of Karl Lagerfeld’s Métiers d’Art at Chanel. Every season, Bailey finds a new kind of artisanship to elevate his collection, and a new musician to accompany the presentation of that collection. Today, it was a young man named Rhodes, who sang great big songs in front of a great big orchestra, while Burberry went hog wild for lace. Bailey used the expertise of small artisanal companies to master the craft of weaving cotton lace then placing it in complete items of clothing (as complex, in its own way, as engineering prints), and the whole process took so long that it’s a small wonder he wanted to celebrate the achievement with an entire body of work. He called it Strait-Laced, an obvious reference to the narrow tailored silhouette that ruled the collection, but also an acknowledgement of the way in which the lace itself softened and undercut the formality. Lace shirts and ties paired with precisely cut jackets and pants made for a subtly dandified look. And a lace collar on a trench was a timely way to update a Burberry classic.
Bailey found other ways to express the notion of loosening the straitlaced. Cashmere knit track pants were a big proposal. When he paired them with silk T-shirts, they had a sensual indolence that subtly subverted the basic tee-and-joggers formula. There was the same incongruity with the gauzy tops in abstract animal prints, or the string of green beads draped around a collar-and-tied neck, or the insect tiepins. Little things that suggested whoever is wearing the suit isn’t the straitlaced guy you think he is. In other words, Christopher Bailey is continuing to add outré shades to the palette of the Burberry man.