There I was, making my way through the vast Tardis of a tent that Burberry had once again erected across the Royal Albert Hall, when I got an email from Christopher Bailey welcoming me to the show. How very nice of him! The subject line read ‘Trench Kisses’. Oh, Christopher…. Then again, I wouldn’t have been that surprised if a digital hologram of him personally greeted me at the entrance, walked me to my seat and gave me a glass of something cold and fizzy to enjoy.
Is there anything that Bailey has not done to the good ol’ trench coat over the years? This season he added a touch of naughtiness to this most classic of designs, turning its panels sheer with latex in a manner that would make heads turn back in Christine Keeler’s day. The showgirl that nearly topped the British government in the early Sixties as muse? Now, that’s kinky.
Cara in a blurrily sheer rubber pencil skirt, animal print knit and heart-printed big panties looked as Sixties kittenish as a girl could get and the same heart print that appeared throughout, on a buttoned-up dress on Jourdan or a shirt tucked into a dangerously glossy skirt on Karlie, was unexpectedly sweet and simple. Glistening luxurious skins and leathers were worked into short jackets and perfectly elegant pencil skirts but they felt familiar, too much so to get really excited about them. An overblown animal print trench coat in what looked like pony skin was a more interesting approach and when teamed with an oaty ribbed knit these animal textures and prints they felt modern and relevant. The shiny gold hardware that took over the later part of the show struggled to do so although the craftsmanship involved in the eyelet-studded and shredded black leather skirt of another coat on Karlie was pretty impressive.
In the end, what made this show truly memorable was the glorious live performance by Tom Odell and his chorus belting out “Hold Me” with such power the whole tent seemed to shake. When Christopher Bailey took his bow he pointed at them, by now concealed behind two enormous Burberry-checked suede mechanical doors, as if to say, “how about them, right?” Such is Bailey’s power that he can make stars out of young musicians and reign over a mega brand. Long may he do so.