Above: Suki Waterhouse leads the finale of Burberry Prorsum.
With so much to prove in his first outing as both chief creative officer and chief executive officer, Christopher Bailey wasn’t going to be taking any risks with the Burberry Prorsum spring/summer 2015 collection.
His intentions, however, were crystal clear: send a powerfully strong message to the Burberry shareholders by finding the brand’s new bestsellers. After all, there has to be more to Burberry Prorsum than the mac – the brand’s absolute staple – which Bailey has constantly and successfully reinvented. But now that the Burberry Prorsum customer has 10 or more of them, what next?
Could it be a sculpted Burberry Prorsum denim jacket? Trainers in multicoloured luxury leather? Burberry’s version of the Birkenstock?
He opened with both. And it couldn’t have been a more confident sales-worthy statement, as well as giving a much-needed optimistic spring (quite literally) in the brand’s step. Those denim jackets could be the answer to ‘the new mac’ – curved and cropped in deep indigo, one boasted a fluffy sheepskin lining, the other sprouted glamorous fine ostrich feathers. He paired them with large iridescent sequined skirts in the season’s new shape – straight and calf-length – another possible hit.
The backdrop to the show – held in the usual gargantuan tent in Kensington Gardens – was equally optimistic. Bailey had the tent’s transparent ceiling painted boldly with colour and the word ‘insects’. With Britain and all things British so close to the brand’s heart, the collection seemed inspired by a country garden (think grand estate, not village cottage), aptly titled ‘The Birds And The Bees’. So patent leather beetles crawled over a denim skirt; pretty tulle dresses were pleated like butterfly wings; those iridescent sequins recalled glossy dragonflies; the denim jackets were ‘wasp’ waisted. As for prints, bright book cover designs featured vivid flora and fauna.
But back to hitting sales and the pressure to produce winning accessories – namely bags. The Burberry Bee bag and the Mini Bee bag looked great in contrasting coloured leathers – poppy red, fern yellow, pale sweet pea, beetle green, rosehip… you get the picture. And the footwear, not just the aforementioned trainer, but the Burberry Field Sandal – a cork-soled, soft-suede Birkenstock-alike, albeit sportier, more colourful and much more luxurious – looked like they might fly off the shop floor.
Add to all this the heartfelt emotions of James Bay, singing live at the foot of the stage, and Bailey couldn’t have done much more to appease his shareholders and please the Burberry Prorsum faithfuls. But will it drive new customers to stores? Only time will tell.