Burberry builds on past glories

AP/ AFP – The Burberry collection was a triumph for Riccardo Tisci, the relatively new chief creative designer. He’s found a way to elaborate on the brand’s familiar themes — those trenches and those checks, those clean lines and easy drapes — without adulterating what made Burberry unique to begin with. It’s a balancing act, and he makes it work.

For Burberry the roots are always English — in this case, many of the designs are variations of the Victorian era look. That meant reconstructed trench coats, some almost abstract in design, along with cinched blazers, box-pleat skirts suits, corset detailing and ruffled lace dresses. The evening dresses were decorated with crystal mesh and ostrich feathers layered by hand.

The colours were familiar to Burberry devotees: grey, black and beige dominated, along with many outfits that simply mixed black and white. There were beautiful print blouses with billowing built-in scarfs, and imaginative variations of the classic trench. There was nothing gaudy or flashy, nothing too outrageous, and no sense of trying too hard.

There was more variety to the menswear than in recent years, including a series of belted suits, some of which could pass for sophisticated business wear and some of which was simply too unusual, with silver decoration or contrasting panels in the jacket. For the moment, Burberry seems to have turned its back on the traditional dress shirt, tie and dark suits that were once staples of its menswear collections.

Some of the outfits, including an impressive series of white lace mini-dresses, bore the statement “I am a unicorn” across the front. It seemed at first like an attempt to be trendy, but Tisci said it was, like so many things, actually tied to Burberry’s history.