Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Burberry targets the English dandy

British fashion house reveals tweed for less adventurous

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LONDON -- Colorful silk scarves tied daintily around the neck, fishnet mesh vests, big furry mohair coats -- and we're talking about menswear, not women's.

The latest men's offerings from British luxury label Burberry Prorsum, showcased Wednesday in London, were themed "A painterly journey." The collection's decadent fabrics and arty prints had a feel of the English dandy and more than a hint of femininity about them.

Chief designer Christopher Bailey said he was inspired by the works of British artists, including Christopher Wood and Ben Nicholson.

"That kind of translated into these hand-painted bags, hand-painted coats, embroideries and jacquards," he said backstage after the show. "I wanted the collection to feel very, very rich as well."

The designer will soon also take on the role of CEO at Burberry after Angela Ahrendts announced she was leaving the brand for Apple. Although Bailey is widely admired for transforming Burberry from a fusty brand to Britain's most powerful fashion house, there is uncertainty about how the label's business will be affected by the change.

There is no question, though, that Burberry will continue its campaign to promote itself worldwide in a big way with digital technology and social media, especially in Asian markets like China. Wednesday's catwalk was streamed live to thousands of customers around the world through a dozen Burberry platforms, including Instagram and YouTube, and buyers could order runway looks right after the show.

In line with the arty theme, prints were big and bold. Models opened the catwalk wearing scarves, shirts and sweaters featuring prints of London maps and landmarks such as St. Paul's Cathedral. Vines and autumn leaf patterns in mustard, burgundy and hunter green dominated the second half of the show.

Many of those patterns were used on heavy blanket-like scarves, draped on one shoulder as if the model just casually threw it on. The look was stylish enough, though somewhat impractical off the catwalk.

Some of the looks -- say the fluffy coats, floral suede outerwear and the way silk scarves were tied -- might be too feminine-looking for many men, but there also were plenty of classic tweed and trench coats for the less adventurous.

Burberry's is the biggest and glitziest catwalk at London's menswear fashion shows, which closes Wednesday after dozens of displays from the likes of Tom Ford, Alexander McQueen, JW Anderson, Hackett London and Hardy Amies.

 

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 11, 2014 D13

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