We were in the usual venue, a massive tent in Kensington Gardens, but the space was different. Everything was different. An orchestra pit at the centre of the runway was circled by the usual Burberry babes, Kate Moss, Sienna Miller, Cara Delevingne, Suki Waterhouse, Paloma Faith and so on.
Out stepped the 32-piece orchestra, followed by one of the greatest British singers of all time, Alison Moyet. She took a breath, and then…
‘You took your time to come back this time,
the grass has grown under your feet…’
All deep, husky and soulful, she sang All Cried Out, her seminal 1984 ballad. The audience welled up. And that was before a single model appeared. When they emerged, the first in black – a signature mac, a little black lace dress beneath it, thick-soled strap sandals on her feet – it wasn’t the Burberry we knew. Not that a mac is in any way a revelation at this brand. But the black lace vest and long narrow ivory silk skirt that followed was new – softer, more intimate, less brand-generic.
More black followed: a pea coat, military jacket, trench coat, biker jacket, now with the addition of gold hardware or gold embroidered insignia creeping up a lapel and mixed with macramé lace that made criss-cross patterns over bare skin. It was the simple ivory slip dress that sauntered out, a black rucksack on her back, those flat strapped sandals on her feet, that said 1990s; the palette-cleansing era of fashion that followed a decade of ostentation when minimalism quietly ruled and grunge became the new chic.
This was Christopher Bailey realigning the brand with the times. The CEO and Chief Creative Officer had stripped back Burberry! No poetic theme here. The minimum of print (save a bold flower) and barely any colour, save two lace dresses, one lemon, the other pistachio, that barely disrupted the calm black, white, navy, gold, cream and nude palette. He called it, simply, Function Regalia.
Then Alison Moyet sang Only You...
‘All I needed was the love you gave
All I needed for another day…’
And we were into the finale of black capes and trenches over long ivory dresses, the clothing equivalent of her soulful voice.
Everything about this Burberry Prorsum collection looked and felt harmonious.