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Burberry takes Fashion Week back to the 50s

Worldwide mega-brand reasserts its heritage status
  • @harrywalker1

There was little sign of anxiety at Burberry's London Fashion Week show yesterday, despite the megabrand issuing a profit warning last week – swiftly followed by a drop in its share price.

Instead, guests were greeted at the vast marquee in Kensington Gardens by a projected London skyline, in which Burberry's newly opened 44,000 sq ft flagship store on Regent Street featured prominently.

And chief creative officer Christopher Bailey's collection was no less bombastic, a celebration of the Prorsum line's high-end credentials with sumptuous fabrics and couture detailing, and a reassertion of its hip-heritage status among some of the world's wealthiest private clients.

The label's signature trench was reworked in a spectrum of holographic shades, from hot pink via aubergine to cobalt and apple green, and reimagined as cropped mini-capes, bolero bomber jackets and cocoon coats with the voluminous sack-back and drop-shouldered silhouette so redolent of the 1950s golden age of atelier craftsmanship.

Artisanal touches came on plisse silk corsets, laser-cut lace outerwear and separates, and a bustier dress covered in royal blue feathers, a bold statement of the brand's unshakable luxe identity and faith in its chosen commercial route.

Young designer Christopher Kane meanwhile, dealt with the nuts and bolts in his offering yesterday. Sharply cut and classically feminine crêpe de Chine dresses in white, lemon yellow and bubblegum pink were ingeniously held together at the shoulder with moulded plastic fastenings shaped like wingnuts; they came as buttons on boxy jackets and skirts, too.

Restrained decoration came by way of fluid planes of fabric that cascaded down the front of minimal Sixties-style shift dresses. But Kane's vision of femininity was toughened up with padded leather motorcross jackets featuring an embossed pattern of roses, and haphazard strips of packing tape used as rough embellishment. His great strength as a designer is creating glamorously modern clothes that are conceptual, cool and comfortable.

Stiffly frilled organdie skirts and dresses were printed with nostalgically twee bows, which were later realised in 3D in the same rubberised plastic and worked into latticed skirts and jackets. "That was a bit of a cash-and carry-moment," the designer said. "The bows were meant to be sickly sweet, the colours were serene so you didn't know what was coming next."

London Fashion Week draws to a close today with shows from Mulberry and Meadham Kirchhoff.

Transport kindly provided by Mercedes Benz