For Spring/Summer 2011 Burberry Prorsum's with the band, the collection revolving around the cool cornerstone of the Perfecto.
When exactly did Burberry Prorsum become the dernier cri of cool? With both front-row and advertising campaigns packed with barely-teenaged harbingers of hip culled from film and music, Burberry is well and truly leading the pack. It's even launching a music showcase, titled Burberry Acoustic and curated by Bailey, to showcase up-and-coming British music acts. Surrounded by these young, creative and - dare we say - beautiful types, Christopher Bailey was bound to be inspired. Hence for Spring/Summer 2011 Burberry Prorsum's with the band, the collection revolving around the cool cornerstone of the Perfecto. Indeed Bailey's versions lived up to that moniker - artfully washed and distressed, patched, stained and studded like Camden's finest, they were 'perfect' examples of rebellious teen angst. Think Marlon Brando. Think Sid Vicious. Think Kurt Cobain. Maybe don't think Billy Idol, although there were shades of him in there too. Therein lies the rub - the grungy, punky, beaten-up aesthetic that has been doing the rounds in the pubs of Hackney Wick for the past few years is an acquired taste, to say the least. Offering counter-culture couture as fashion is questionable, certainly at this level of luxury manufacture and particularly in men's fashion - and the majority of fashion-forward consumers hankering after this look would be more than content to trawl the vintage rag-bags of East London to get their cut-price fix.
Christopher Bailey, however, hasn't taken Burberry from strength to strength for no reason. He is a great designer and also an astute businessman. First off, this marriage wasn't quite so odd: the Perfecto is eighty years old, the Burberry trench ninety, so rather than stately father versus rebellious son they are more sartorial peers, both perfectly suited to their respective utilitarian roles. In the same way he spin-doctors the trench time and time again, Bailey reworked that Perfecto as cashmere knit, as oversized gabardine jackets with diagonal zips, or as pepped-up overcoat with leather strapping. The trench, of course, got its own special work-out - zipped and buckled with press-stud epaulettes, or simply rendered as lengthened Perfecto in tumbled calf. When all that cool-kid leather inevitably got too much, Bailey offered some respite: a few flap-pocket flak-jackets reprised winter's military theme in fine wool, while standard-issue Burberry trenches came double-breasted in shades of tobacco cotton, or in waterproof nylon with leather sleeves. If one questioned if that wasn't a little heavy for summer, the torrential June rain outside was a neat reply - after all, you can order these garments now to be delivered in just seven weeks.
If it all sound a bit Rebel Without a Cause, it wasn't. All that studded leather was disseminated into a chunky, hefty tote to close the show, as comfortable on the shoulder of a moneyed city banker as a cool London kid. Guess who's more likely to get their pre-order in first?