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Burberry seizes moment at London Fashion Week

LONDON (AP) ― A little snowfall is no problem ― even inside ― if you have proper raingear to protect you, so the models at the Burberry Prorsum London Fashion Week show Monday had no complaints about the artificial snow cascading down on the catwalk for the finale.

Once again, Burberry design czar Christopher Bailey wowed a celebrity-laden crowd with his dresses, coats, flared pantsuits and other ensembles that played with the traditional Burberry style without seeking to replicate it in every outfit.

The company’s military heritage was evident in the epaulettes, buckles and braiding on many of the coats and dresses, but the clothes were soft, feminine and witty.

“Christopher has been let free,” said Mario Testino, the celebrity photographer known for his portraits of the late Princess Diana and his engagement photo of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
British designer Paul Smith at the Paul Smith fashion show, London Fashion Week in London, Monday. (AP-Yonhap News)
British designer Paul Smith at the Paul Smith fashion show, London Fashion Week in London, Monday. (AP-Yonhap News)

Bailey dipped into the Burberry archives for his inspiration for the Autumn Winter 2011 collection, inspired by images of swinging ’60s icon Jean Shrimpton.

He married that vision of wide-eyed English chic with his musing on the weather. He played on the theme of coat dressing, combining different textures ― fur with tweed or knits with leather trim.

Bailey is credited with giving the company a cutting edge image while still paying homage to its traditional, more conservative designs. So there was plenty of plaid ― as one might expect with Burberry ― but it went far beyond the traditional check.

Coats came in mustard or black or red ― some with voluminous sleeves. One take off on the classic trench came in white wool knit ― a combination that nodded to its popular design while adding a chunky “Let’s warm the toes around the fire” feel.

“The great thing about Burberry is that (Bailey) can take the traditional Burberry aesthetic and evolve it into something that is new or a trend,” said Katharine Zarella, who writes for Interview and Dossier magazines.

Bailey, 39, tried to set a mood he described as light and fun, starting with a visual display of a snowstorm ― as if anyone in dark gray London needed extra help in imaging inclement weather ― and then using a snow machine during the finale. The audience seemed intrigued as guests in the front row reached forward to try to see what the falling flakes were made of.

The show marked another high point for Burberry, which has been expanding its global presence in fashion hubs like New York and Tokyo while keeping its London base.

Paul Smith stuck to his signature pinstriped suits and mannish dress coats in his new womenswear collection, dressing his models in skinny cropped pants, flat patent loafers, waistcoats and school ties.

The look was “Annie Hall’’ and Patti Smith-inspired, the silhouette was unapologetically androgynous, the attitude was nonchalant and urban. In fact, with those large black-framed glasses and disheveled hair, the models look much like the hipsters that roam the trendy areas of cities like London and New York.
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