BURBERRY PRORSUM, WINTER 2014
On Burberry Prorsum’s pop-up invite, London is all mixed up. The Tower of London is tucked behind Marble Arch, the stature of Eros from Piccadilly Circus has migrated to St Pauls, and the Burberry store itself teeters in the shadow of Tower Bridge, seemingly on the verge of floating away downriver. It’s wrong, just like the London you see in souvenir shops is wrong – a city of black cabs and Beefeaters, where the only colours on postcards are red telephone boxes and blue skies.
But London IS like that, too – not the London we live in, but the London that’s for sale: a place with all the city’s ordinary noise and extraordinary chaos concertina-ed into a neatly laser-cut P.L. Travers skyline. And today, just north of Kensington Palace, Burberry recreated that fairytale London. There was a tent covered in slabs of grey-brown suede, and lined with dense grey-brown carpet, and walled with softly-lit grey-brown curtains, and filled with grey-brown camping stools. There was a projected backdrop - inevitably, of London, sketched in flickering swathes of grey-brown ink. It was indoors, unlike the vast greenhouse show-spaces of recent seasons; a small change in itself, but one that signalled a shift in stance which became clear as the show went on.
Burberry has always been about the trenchcoat, at heart – fancied up with ruching and embroidery, or fetishised with rubber and studs, but always with that lingering notion of clothing designed for shelter rather than display. But this season’s Prorsum collection was set in a world of flowing, translucent dresses covered in faded flower prints, and of vast, blanket-like shawls and scarves, and of cardigan-like layers so casual that they barely seemed categorisable as coats at all. It all felt incredibly ‘indoor’, despite the fact that every piece came covered with outward-facing imagery – with heavy, black-lined woodcuts, and naively bohemian watercolour florals, and Constructivist geometric repeats. But maybe ‘intimate’ was a better word for Bailey’s satin slips and towelling-like shearling robes, slashed so they showed as much skin as surface. If – as everyone keeps saying – the era of aggressive, outward display is over, then maybe the era of introverted self-indulgence has come to take its’ place. And if Burberry’s show felt designed to communicate one thing, it was comfort – the physical comfort of softly luxurious textures, and the deeper, vaguer comfort found only in the London of nostalgia and fairytales.
Written for Fashion156