Burberry brings best of British to the catwalk


It was the turn of Burberry, Britain's most famous heritage brand, to take to the catwalk at London Fashion Week yesterday, showing its most up-scale line, Burberry Prorsum, inside a pavillion in Hyde Park.

Christopher Bailey, Burberry's creative director, said the clothes were an homage to hand-craftsmanship and tradition. And so they were. The Burberry trench coat came full-skirted in canvas and leather and with crochet-knit collars and belts parkas were oversized with plaited leather sleeves.

The secret of Bailey's success as a designer relies largely on his understanding of British style. With this in mind, tea dresses, striped knits and full linen skirts will suit a modern-day English rose down to the ground. More overtly glamorous were pencil skirts in a warm colour palette of teal, burnt orange, damson and pea green.

Pringle, another Great British name which has its roots in the production of Scottish cashmere and the Argyle knit in particular, has a new design director this season and his debut suggested this company too is in safe hands.

A graduate of the much feted Central Saint Martins MA fashion course, Alistair Carr worked at Marni, Cacharel, Chloe and most recently Balenciaga before landing the top job at Pringle earlier this year.

His was both a well-judged and contemporary show, with pale grey knitwear woven with splashes of bright colour, followed by cleanly cut separates in black, white, grey and navy. The silhouette whispered of the Space Age designs of Courreges and Cardin – think intricately seamed and ultra-neat, boxy shift dresses and coats.

Of all the designers showing in London, Christopher Kane is the name attracting the most critical acclaim. Backstage after his lunchtime show, the designer spoke of a "teenager living on a council estate, in her bedroom, dreaming. She's the one everyone at school hated," he continued.

Certainly, her classmates would have been jealous of her wardrobe. This was youthfully short and bell-shaped – again a 1960s influence could be seen throughout – crafted first in intricately worked metallic brocades in delicate shades of blush and primrose and then in more vivid blue.

Later, "stickers" of the type of flowers such a girl might collect – yellow pansies, pink dahlias and daisies – were scaled up and appliqued onto clothes, then edged with silver sequins or trapped beneath a veil of aluminium organza. The homespun quality of the whole could have fallen into sugar-sweet territory but prim grey and white shirts buttoned to the throat ensured that was never the case. Instead, the collection was clearly unashamedly romantic but also technically advanced and sporty.

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