There’s a myth surrounding Burberry that it’s a company built on innovation and pushing the boundaries. It’s really not. It’s actually about tradition and ultra-commerciality all wrapped up in an often-innovative package.
And by innovative, I mean digital. The company is at the forefront of development in this area, although occasionally even Burberry gets it wrong (when I tried to view the AW16 show this afternoon via the Burberry website on my iPad, my iPhone, my Samsung tablet and my Android phone, it didn’t work!)
But drawing a veil over that blip, where does all this focus on tech innovation leave the clothes? Where they’ve been for a long time: delivering easily-accessible, totally desirable looks guaranteed to get us wanting them… and wanting them now.
For a brand that offers instantly shoppable runway looks, it doesn’t do to scare the customer off. So it’s no surprise that the show today was a masterclass in how to interpret all the season’s key looks.
The two biggest stories were outerwear and after-dark dressing, with the former mainly about ultra-cosy pieces to help us wrap up against the cold.
The latter was (like many other collections this season) less about gala gowns and more about easy-to-wear-and-impossible-to-miss little dresses that relied on rich materials, power patterns and high shine to get noticed.
I loved the oversized shearling biker that was a jacket but almost qualified for coat status, as well as the high-shine belted puffer with white shearling collar, the navy and khaki military greatcoats edged in red, and the belted fur (I think it was shearling) chubby coat.
Equally desirable was the collection’s obsession with shine. We got a patent leather trench, a glazed snakeskin vintage-look coat, brocades and rich shimmering floral patterns on dark grounds. Whether coming as a cape-shouldered blouse, a simple shift or a softly dropped waist dress, they made an impact without ever feeling like they would overpower the wearer.
And the snakeskin made me want to rush out and buy one of the season’s popular leather shift dresses. Burberry’s version came in ochre snakeskin with red skirt inserts and contrast sleeves. The same material also came as patchwork vintage-influenced bags, tapping beautifully into the mini bag trend.
The sequinned shift dress series felt both impactful and restrained. Worked as lively florals on simple mini lengths, they made eveningwear a less challenging option than we often get from the runways.
There was more, of course, that ticked AW16’s trends checklist. Slashed hems, checks, fur collars, sidestripe casual pants, ankle boots and more.
It all underlined just how well Christopher Bailey and his team know what the customer is likely to want, and with a limited amount of instant availability (until March 7) also when she’ll want it.
For me, prices north of £1,000 are a bit too rich – although the limited edition nail varnish at £45 might just suit my budget.