Back in January, Christopher Bailey sent out a romper-stomper of a collection, swaggering and confident, founded on Burberry's well-known knack for outstanding outerwear. After ecstatic responses, bulging order-books and a few industry plaudits being thrown his way, for his Autumn/Winter 2010 womenswear collection, he reasoned, quite rightly, that we could all do with a second helping.
Naturally, this wasn't a matter of Christopher Bailey pushing his luck - indeed, the man simply knows when he's onto a good thing. After all, that military-based menswear is precisely what Burberry is all about - why not revive it for the girls, too? The coats he showed in January needed little reinvention - their oversized proportions, utilitarian hardware details and multilayered collars blanketed in sheepskin have been echoed enough times over the past two weeks, so Bailey barely tweaked them. The generosity to their cut was retained, but Bailey sliced them off at the waist, or even high on the breast, rendering them as chic, chunky bolero bombers or, in the case of those officer's greatcoats, fantastic brass-buttoned swinging jackets with outsize lapels. A cadet tunic, fitted to the waist and curved across the breasts, was left untouched - likewise a couple of unutterably elegant navy-blue jackets and peacoats, the best bisected with a thick golden zip, and a fantastic black coat with sword-pleat skirt. The signature, iconic and seemingly indestructible trench was, of course, given a killer reworking - its best interpretation thickly-lined in shearling (what else), and with yet more of the fluff stuff sliced into storm-flap and bulky raglan sleeves.
As with the menswear, the outfits these coats and jackets were flung over really played second fiddle - although they played their part in proving the surety of Bailey's touch, exquisitely rendered as the luxurious ruched skirts and dresses were in next season's chosen shades of rich teal and burgundy. Legs were encased in skinny, shiny and super thigh-high boots that ran far away under narrow lace skirts, or else were stylishly rammed into Bailey's reworking of fur-lined galoshes: sexy, spike-heeled buckle-strewn ankle-boots frothing with creamy sheepskin like an overflowing pint of Guinness. Great as they were, this wasn't a show about accessories. This was a true winter collection - one created by a British luxury-goods company who thankfully appreciate what it means to battle through a British winter (and summer, for that matter). These endless, endlessly inventive variants on everyday daywear are precisely what people come to Burberry for. In the odd, insular word of fashion 'everyday' and 'daywear' have often been used pejoratively, but there was nothing lacklustre about these garments. It's difficult to criticise a collection that managed to offer, again and again, veritable armies of instantly covetable, eminently wearable and effortlessly perfect clothes.