There was an unmistakable British spirit to this collection that unfolded inside a former east London court, Old Sessions House, with its fashionably stripped-back walls, lavish chandeliers and stately central staircase.
The Pet Shop Boys provided the official soundtrack, while the unofficial one came from a pack of yelping animal rights activists gathered outside who, for reasons known only to them, chose to target Burberry — more famous for its cotton gabardine than for its fur — with their anger just as London was recovering from yet another terrorist attack.
“There’s quite a lot of noise today,” said Christopher Bailey with typical understatement as he endeavored to talk to members of the media above the din of the protesters. He was describing his upbeat collection — a kooky, preppy, punk take on the brand — and an exhibition of 20th-century British social portraiture called “Here We Are,” that will run until Oct. 1 in the show space.
Bailey said he wanted there to be a certain “rawness” to the collection, and said he was inspired by the pictures, and in particular the “working class, gritty, Northern images.” He wanted to make sure he got the balance right, too. “I like the grandeur. This building, I think, represents what we are trying to say in the collection, there’s a little bit of grandeur, but also something that’s a bit broken down with age.”
With its youthful, punk flair, the collection was a departure for the usually luxed-up Burberry, what with the worn-in graffiti-ed trenches, neat tartan trousers and riding coats and little skirts made from repurposed military jackets.
That traditional Burberry check — that one associated with the chavs — made a comeback on oversize bags, the turned-up cuffs of long gabardine coats and baseball caps.
Knits — Fair Isle, Aran and argyle — came in a riot of bright layers while fuzzy shearlings, plastic raincoats and long sheer skirts were dipped in delightfully artificial — and very midcentury — shades of mint, aqua and Pepto-Bismol pink.