The last thing the ushers at Burberry did, just before the show began, was to close the tall, bronze velvet curtains that lined the tent. It was a simple but dramatic move, shutting off the grey January skies over Kensington Gardens — and sealing off the one thing that’s defined Christopher Bailey’s collections for several seasons: weather.
That obsession with the by-products of Britain’s unique climate (with waterproof raincoats and umbrellas, with anoraks and hoods and sturdy winter knits) has resulted in a refined, luxurious aesthetic that’s proved to have both hometown resonance and broad universal appeal. So it was interesting to see Bailey shift direction with a collection labelled ‘Classical Bohemian’, which moved the mood firmly indoors. Inspired by the dandy decadence that marked the end of the Sixties’ menswear explosion, the show added a whole new swathe of surfaces and details to the label’s existing palette: faded tapestry florals, plush leopard-prints, saturated velvets, thickly-fringed blankets and shimmering Rajasthan mirror work. In many ways, it was a return to Bailey’s early days at Burberry, when he translated the Seventies sensuality of his years with Tom Ford at Gucci into a more innocent, sweet-natured retro kick. The difference, this time round, is that in the intervening decade, Burberry has become a global byword for British luxury — and the finishes were ramped up to reflect that sense of maximal, unabashed opulence. And so, despite the rain pelting down outside Bailey’s curtained tent, everything on the inside felt perfect — right down to the finale, when the ceiling erupted, raining both models and audience in a dazzle of falling silver.