Bohemian Classicism

Burberry Prorsum FW15
13 January 2015

When Burberry returned home from Milan fashion week to London Collections: Men three seasons ago, it was declared that Christopher Bailey had wiped the slate. And from then on we witnessed the impassioned invoking of the Burberry man. Yes, it’s true Britishness, but it’s the bohemian flavor underpinning it that packs the punch – and that’s what has made each Bailey’s past few collections so memorable.

With that SS14 collection we found ourselves in the world of the ‘Writers and Painters’ (Alan Bennett was the writer, David Hockey the painter), in a brilliantly exacted caricature of British creatives’ style. (Bailey is said to have once spotted Hockney walking down high street in a paint spotted white suit – messy and perfect all at once). FW14 ‘A Painterly Journey’ saw Bailey serve up his favourite, well, painters, and last season it was our artful nomad (‘Art of Travel’) – the kind you could picture novelist and travel writer Bruce Chatwin gallivanting with.

All these collections have shared the common quality of atmosphere: set in Burberry’s giant transparent tent and hence to the leafy backdrop of Kensington Gardens. Yesterday, Bailey’s collection was dubbed ‘Bohemian Classicism’ and as the rain pounded, monstrous velvet curtains were closed to reveal the essence of this season: the luxury of indoors. And as Marc Bolan’s Cosmic Dancer rung out via the sultry vocals of British singer Clare Maguire, it shifted into gear.

Here was a juxtaposition of 1960s decadence with the showy classicism that defined the era’s menswear boom. Tapestry motifs were washed out, prints opulent, fringed blankets and ponchos draped over shoulders. Camo brought it forward to now, while mirrored accents – a sunshine yellow scarf here, a tailored cornflower blue jacket there – suggested exotic journeys. Bailey’s own heritage appeared as floral and paisley shirts, inspired by quilts from Durham. Near to East Yorkshire, it’s where the designer was born.

Overwhelmingly it was about the classic transcending the everyday, a richly textured lifestyle that’s about the end result (the work involved is a given). As it ended, House of the Rising Sun rung out to a shimmering explosion of silver glitter. “And it’s been the ruin of many a poor boy. And God I know I’m one.”

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