Bailey’s Pride. Burberry SS18

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So, what to expect from a designer’s final collection, especially after a 17 year-long tenure as a creative director and the person in charge for the brand’s business side? Well, pretty much anything. Christopher Bailey‘s last collection at Burberry was meant to be a blast. And there really are the reasons to praise the designer this season. “My final collection here at Burberry is dedicated to – and in support of – some of the best and brightest organisations supporting LGBTQ+ youth around the world. There has never been a more important time to say that in our diversity lies our strength, and our creativity.” Pride and optimism was reflected in everything, from the puffas to sweatshirts covered in raibow.  The Rainbow check, the latest iteration of Burberry’s most iconic symbol and designed as part of Christopher’s dedication of his last collection to LGBTQ+ communities, featured throughout the show. It was nice seeing that a brand like Burberry, so established and all, goes for an important matter!

Still, I’m on fence with this collection. The capsule of reissued archive pieces from the 1980s and 1990s rereleased felt new to Burberry, but the idea is quite pinched from Gucci’s current bootleg obsession. In overall, the collection was more Alessandro Michele, than Christopher Bailey. There were some clear signs of Demna Gvasalia and Phoebe Philo inspired tricks there and there – like over-sized, Vetements-y hoodies or Céline-ish lace dresses and plastic bags. In other words, I think the label tried hard this season to be relevant and look 2018. Nevertheless, Bailey had his big, last word to say with the collection. Where will we see him next? The time will tell.

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Chavs and Checks. Burberry AW17

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There’s a new, very common tendency in fashion for speeding up the sales. While in the past, that was done by launching a new perfume, today, it’s making the clothes feel Vetements (with some smaller or bigger alternations). In case of Burberry, Christopher Bailey‘s strategy was to pin-up that popularly over-sized, ‘I don’t care how I look’ style to the brand’s biggest heritage – the Burberry check – that lately wasn’t a top-seller. The bootleg power has its impact, after all, and as the current consumer fancies looking cheap, that’s a very, very good shot.

Following the successful recipe of many brands, Bailey invited the ‘cool pack’ to collaborate in the new season. So we’ve got Gosha Rubchinskiy, who has already presented a glimpse of the Burberry collab in his recent menswear collection that took place last June in Saint Petersburg. The Russian photographer, known for capturing the post-Soviet skate youth and rave scene, also contributed to Burberry’s photography exhibition, ‘Here We Are‘, curated by Alasdair McLellan. But back to the clothes: not that the overall collection was bad. Quite opposite – it was one of the best Burberry collections in a while. Lots of heavy knitwear worn over sheer dresses (lovely, rustical mood of Scottish highlands); PVC jackets in pastel pink; and of course, checks covering everything from coats to the ‘chav’ inspired caps. The effect? Sure, I took out my well-forgotten, beige scarf for a walk. Looked at it with a ‘fresh’ eye. But if taking a closer look at that Gosha-coolness of this collection, Burberry’s new-season directions says as follows: ‘desperate’.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Warm November Dibs

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I always find November as a very complicated period for dressing. At this point, let’s forget about the pleasure of September clothes, which feel so fresh, when you take them out of  your wardrobe after summer season of shorts and t-shirts. Still, November isn’t December: Christmas and festive mood isn’t present yet. November is November. Occasional sun deceives you, just like the yellow leaves – in fact, it’s so, so COLD.

Some designers, who live in a real world, understand those down-to-earth human needs, which touch all of us in the late autumn. I’m honest: I’m really not into resort collections, which start to hit the stores. Also, the idea that I will need to  survive entire autumn in a biker jacket, as most of pre-fall and winter collections say, doesn’t appeal to me even a bit. That’s why I treasure brands like Holland & Holland.  Re-invented by two, fantastic women, Stella Tennant and Isabella Cawdor, the historic British brand puts emphasis on classical tweed, knitted goods, shirts, outerwear, tailoring and accessories. Tennant and Cawdor certainly know what does it mean to feel the November chill – both of them live in Scottish highlands, and are surrounded by moors since childhood. Looking at the look-book of their autumn-winter 2016 collection, you will believe them – a pair of woollen pants and a fur-trimmed parka won’t let you catch a cold. Just like at The Row, where Olsen sisters wait for you with ankle-lenght astrakhan coats and double-face cashmere sweaters.

Phoebe Philo, the woman for women at Céline, knows that layering is the key, and there is no autumn without over-sized pants, soft turtlenecks and well-tailored coats. That’s obvious, looking at her newer, and older collections (which seem to be endlessly relevant, by the way). No one does wool jackets like Hillier Bartley – modelled on classic British riding styles, a Hound’s-tooth ensemble instantly stole my heart. British and American designers are the ones who you can rely on in case of autumn essentials. Count on Italians, too – Miuccia Prada’s genius AW16 at her main line has a say in terms of coats and knits.

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Parisian designers have a different attitude towards November-dressing, and to understand that, take a glance at Lemaire‘s autumn outing of pure French chic. Subtle silhouettes, like fine, black coats or cable-knits with Elizabethan sleeves define the word ‘cozy’ like no other. You can grab those clothes, and go out, without a second thought.

One of my favourite collections ever, which I tend to look back at quite frequently during November evenings, is Haider Ackermann‘s 2014 collection. Kept in various shades of grey and brown, Ackermann took a new spin on his eveningwear, delivering floor-sweeping coats and ultra-feminine  wide trousers in wool. Pencil skirts and thick blazers – maybe November isn’t that bad, after all? From layers and layers of cashmere to dapper power-dressing, November is the season when you can truly embrace a kind of toned, stately elegance.

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September. Burberry AW16

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Everybody was excited about the wave of fresh, young talents taking over London Fashion Week’s scene. But the changes (or rather reforms) taking place at Burberry were on everybody’s lips since day one. The title of this post seems to be awkward at a glance: “Burberry AW16”. Wait, but didn’t Christopher Bailey, the creative director and CEO of the brand, presented his autum-winter 2016 collection back in March? Indeed. But this what you will see now is the continuation of the winter season, and it’s also a first peek at Burberry’s new business model, which slightly differs from Tom Ford‘s or Hillier Bartley‘s. In fact, the collection is called “September 2016”, and it became available minutes after the actual show took place in nearly all Burberry boutiques world-wide, and on-line. Impressive.

By coincidence (or not, perhaps) I’m much more into winter collections than the summer ones. Basically, it’s getting cold, and seeing a line of great shearling jackets, boots with tassels and over-sized knitwear appeals to me naturally. That said, Burberry presented over 140 looks of warming goodness. The models, who looked like the gender-switching protagonist from Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, are somewhere between shirts with ruffled accordion detailing from the Elizabethan era, and opulent, jacquard dresses. The exquisitely crafted cavalry jacket stole my heart with its intricate English regalia and a very sleek silhouette. Satin pajama shirts and velvet pants for men – Bailey nailed it. In some places, the collection is similar to Alessandro Michele’s poetic debut season at Gucci. But the distinct Burberry signatures, like the iconic trench coat, remind you we’re in London, not Milan.

I forgot when was the last time I LOVED a Burberry collection, or at least didn’t yawn during one. I think “September 2016” is my first real love affair with this British brand, due to many reasons – the innovative business strategy, the mood, the clothes. It all works for me. And I’m drooling for those boots with tassels.

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