“Orlando has always been a treasury of ideas for me. It is eccentric and it is beautiful. It is a love letter to the past and to English history, yet it is also fiercely modern. And, above all, it feels as though it speaks to us today with utter clarity in its merging and overlapping of male and female, of past and present, of the playful and the serious.” – Christopher Bailey
Here comes the highlight of SS17 London Fashion Week, the unveiling of a new format fashion presentation and retail model of season-less clothing collections “See Now, Buy Now”, that Burberry has been hatching since January this year. Upon hearing the new back in June 2016, I was both curious and excited. Firstly, I definitely welcome the idea of “season-less” clothing because although I love fashion in terms of its level of creativity and a great source of inspiration for my work, in real life, I am not at all a fashion junkie. No matter how much I love something on the runway, I am not one of those who need to always have the latest items from latest fashion trends. I am a very practical and logical shopper. There is no way that I would buy something that I do not need no matter how much tempting they look on the runway. A trait, which I believe, is very common in the majority of professional working women population. Therefore, an item of a season-less collection resonates very well because this means that whatever being presented on the runway, are designed with longer lifespan in mind, not fast fashion to be discarded in 6 months times. This move actually shows a high level of understanding from the brand in terms of what their customers are expecting.
Secondly, it makes so much more sense that since the whole world can watch almost every fashion shows during Fashion Weeks live stream on the internet these days, the collection might as well be available to buy immediately after the show, instead of having to wait 6 more months for something. For fashion outsiders, it has become rather confusing in recently years, what are available in stores, which collections are which season, when everyone can see future collections 6 months in advance everywhere. Pre-ordering a runway collection straight off the show is just not good enough because by the time the item finally arrives, which is usually about 1 month before the collection is available in store, one has forgotten all about the order, because it was done 5 months ago! “See Now, Buy Now” is definitely a good idea, and a logical one too.
These concepts alone were already enough reasons why Burberry was the brand to watch this Fashion Week, just to see how this new business strategy would pan out. What I did not expect though, was not only were they taking a brave move in adopting this new production and retailing model, they also had finally made an even bolder and braver move to finally breakaway from the conservative traditional design directions that they had been adhering for years. This September Collection saw a much more creative side of Burberry. Many of you are probably aware how much I love Burberry, it has always been one of my favourite British brands, but as you probably notice that in recent years, my blog posts about Burberry has gotten shorter and shorter, because well, how many ways can I describe trench coats after so many years, if they always look the same but only changing colours and materials?!?
This September Collection was the first time since 2009 – the first Burberry runway show I attended – that I saw the brand finally took the DNA of their iconic gabardine fabric, Burberry House Check pattern, their equestrian roots, their traditional trench coats, and created something very modern, completely new yet still fully embodied the essence of Burberry brand Heritage. During this collection presentation, I could hardly spot a traditional trench coat in sight. In fact, during the show, I was only able to spot one traditional looking trench coat, and it came with these amazing oversized puffed up sleeves in leopard prints! The others were not recognisable at all during the show, because they were made of unlined silk satin fabric that were layered inside another jackets or coats, and looked more like long cardigans or dressing gowns rather than trench coats.
There were so many fascinating factors and ideas from this collection, that even though it was a long one (over 80 looks in total), I did not feel bored at all. It also took me a few days to think of how to write them all down… In the end, I decided on 3 posts for Burberry because the all-encompassing experience Burberry managed to serve up this time, could not be described in one post… So, this one focuses on the collection itself…
Virginia Woolf’s “Orlando” is a perfect reference to describe this collection of gender fluidity and timeless dressing. Menswear were soft, colourful and playful, whilst womenswear were more masculine, bold in muted colour tones. I particularly loved the layering and mixing of soft and hard textures, such as comfy silk satin pyjamas layered with chunky knitwear with oversized bell sleeves. Just like how Nancy Lancaster played with scales in her interiors and garden designs; Burberry, played with proportions to make what essentially masculine cut became feminine by augmenting its proportions, and vice versa. Dressing gowns and pyjamas were layered with daywear outfits to create a look that was suitable for both day and night, casual and formal occasions. Timeless was not only applied to seasons here, but instead, timeless also referred to the time of day as well. Seeing these silk pyjamas worn as part of a daywear look reminded me on my childhood growing up in a Thai/Chinese community where older generations used to go out doing their morning grocery shopping in pyjamas. Wearing pyjamas outdoor would have been a fashion crime in the west, but now it is the new it look!
The September Collection was almost like a history lesson of British traditional costume, done in a modern way that made it very contemporary. The idea of bringing the past into the future featured very strongly in every look.
British traditional crafts were another highlight of the show, and made even greater impact when one could meet the very people who embroidered, hand-sewn these clothes, experienced first-hand how each techniques were created, from making hardware for an accessories to patchwork making, to hand painting monograms and flowers on one’s bag.
The inspirations for the collection could be seen on the moodboards on the ground floor of Makers House where interiors of English stately homes, portraits of English noblemen and women, Colefax & Fowler style fabric swatches, plans of traditional homes and gardens, all combined to create very modern looks such as embroidered tulle skirts with patterns showing plans of an English garden, or a silk shirt with patterns of a 16th century English wallpaper. This was no doubt the most provocative Burberry Collection I have ever seen.
Below are some of the highlights of the collection, which are currently on display at Makers House… Enjoy!
PHOTOGRAPHER: Julia Jevzikova
OUTFIT OF THE DAY: Burberry Total Look. See previous blog post for details