The Burberry Prorsum show is the biggest event at London Fashion Week, and the buyers in the audience yesterday watched intently for an insight into trends for spring/summer 2011. After all, their autumn/winter collection yielded one of this season's key pieces: a shearling aviator jacket that has been imitated all over the high street.
This collection was dubbed "heritage biker", and leather jackets with studs, zips and motocross detailing are sure to inspire numerous similar – and more affordable – versions in five months' time. The collection had a glam-rock feel, ending with the track "Pinball Wizard" by The Who – and reinforced the Seventies rock theme that has cropped up at various shows, from the capes and flares at Topshop Unique to the Joan Jett-style hair at Marios Schwab.
Burberry might be more readily associated with an outdoorsy English heritage look, but there is often a tough edge to designer Christopher Bailey's collections, and this look was particularly hard. Leather jackets came with pale beige and black motocross-style panelling in classic biker styles, with zips and rows of punk studs and moulded black patent leather.
The classic cotton trench was toughened up with rows of studs across the shoulders, black patent-leather sleeves and vertical strips of black leather; it also came in silver and lime-green snake.
The jackets were teamed with leggings featuring leather panels, skinny trousers in black, pale sand and silver leather, and fitted silk minidresses – some with harness-like straps on the back. These came in tiered spearmint, pale pink and royal purple satin as well as leopard-print silk georgette. Long patent leather bags added shots of citrus yellow, mint green, red, lime and turquoise while the shoes had fierce spike heels that caused several models to take off their shoes and one to tumble.
Although the movement towards understated tailored pieces, dubbed "real clothes", has taken a firm hold for autumn/winter and feels like a genuine change in attitude rather than a fleeting trend, Bailey's bid to "bring sexy back" may offer a significant alternative next season.
Holding a show as big as Burberry's with Sarah Jessica Parker, Andy Murray and Anna Wintour in the audience might still be a dream for many up-and-coming British designers, but the Fashion East showcase could help it happen. Yesterday's crop of new names, supported by the non-profit organisation, featured three designers with very different visions.
While Heikki Salonen's collection last season was hailed as "glunge" or glamorous grunge, this was a more utilitarian show, featuring shift dresses with distressed edges and clusters of frayed ruffles in cheesecloth and crinkled cottons, loose boyish coats and shirts and slim cream trousers and shorts.
Felicity Brown's collection focused on cocktail dresses adorned with fine layers of silk shaped into undulating, frayed ruffles, with several shades of one colour on a single dress. John Rocha's daughter Simone showed white deconstructed tailoring and softened the overall effect by adding pieces of net.