The Great Outdoors. Burberry AW23

There’s a lot of debating going on whether Daniel Lee‘s debut collection for Burberry was fashion-forward enough. In this patchwork of signature Burberry plaids, outdoor-perfect blanket coats, cozy knits and floor-sweeping English Rose dresses (yawn), it’s hard to seek real fashion novelties – or even witty styling tricks that made Lee’s take on Bottega Veneta so appealing. The new direction at Burberry reminds of the one that Christopher Bailey had for 17 years, in the pre-Riccardo Tisci times. Bailey delivered proper collections that were sometimes cool, sometimes naff variations on the notion of Britishness. No co-incidence that today, Bailey has a mentor-like role for Lee. To be frank, I had no expectations regarding this debut, so I can’t say I’m disappointed. The collection is better than about 80% of Tisci’s work for the brand, but in defense of the Italian designer, he took creative risks that attempted to stimulate Burberry into something more than a brand with classy outerwear.

I think that the brand is about functionality,” Lee told the press after the show. His men’s plaid trousers, with their horizontal zippered pockets, echoed the shape of technical hiking gear; women’s kilts had the casual air of wrapped-around picnic blankets. You might even really be able to go for a walk on the Yorkshire moors in his heavy-duty climbing boots or cropped wellies. The designer well knows the worldwide fashion appeal of the exaggerated accessory. It showed up in a giant trapper hat, in satchels and saddlebags fastened with a “B” clip and dangling multiple fake-fur tails. One of the models wore a hilarious hand-knitted bonnet in the shape of a duck, complete with a beak and dangling red legs. This sort of bonkers English eccentricity is something Lee should definitely expand on. The designer is very serious about branding and exactly how it can radiate fashion appeal far beyond the mere stamping of logos on everything. The evidence is in the message he delivered at this show on the back of his redesign of the Burberry Prorsum medieval knight on a charger. It was blown up like a flag on a white dress. But the main point about it is the color. It’s a vibrant blue. So is the type that Burberry now uses. After Lee’s success-story of Bottega green, is Burberry blue the new “it” colour? Time will tell.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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