Today’s Burberry show was the second for creative director Daniel Lee, and it’s becoming clear he’s found a comfortable spot between honoring heritage and forging his own path forward. Held inside a giant tartan-print tent on the outskirts of London in Highbury Fields, the show had food trucks with coffee and Guinness bread, and branded hot water bottles placed on each of the seats—which, according to Lee’s show notes, were meant to evoke “a sense of outdoor living.” Let’s be honest—a luxury fashion show is never really that in touch with nature, but once the clothes started to make their way down the deep green carpeted runway (not grass—it’s just a sense of the outdoors), you could feel some intrepidness, one that didn’t necessarily call bucolic settings to mind, but instead a gaggle of well-heeled city-dwellers who have large summer “cottages” in the Cotswolds.
That’s the way Lee approaches his collections, bridging divides between old and new, between traditional and something more of the moment. With the brand’s Spring 2024 collection, the designer used the classic Burberry trench to make this point, updating the brand signature with drop waists and new branded prints, and pairing it with fringe and sporty separates. Lee also gave new gestural meaning to the outerwear, showcasing his new trench silhouettes worn off the shoulders, buttoned to the top, or purposefully belted. Though the styling is not exactly revolutionary and the trench never really fell out of fashion, the combination did make this signature of the storied British house feel newly desirable. The same goes for Lee’s latest on the accessories front—the chunky loafer heels and chain strap bags will no doubt be all over our social media feeds come spring. Other standout pieces included beautifully crafted chiffon jackets shown in black and the house’s signature blue, which Lee unearthed from the archives last season. As with the updated Burberry trench, these well-made staples have a sense of effortlessness and ease that are smart bottom lines for this house.
In his show notes, Lee also explained this collection was meant as “an exploration of lightness, sensuality, beauty, and elegance.” In the end, the lineup certainly achieved lightness, which is impressive, considering this is a brand that has always been known for its utilitarian outerwear and heavy tartan check. Sensuality found its place through the hot slip silhouettes and the slightly offbeat closing look: a handsome shirtless man in a pair of front-pleat trousers held at the waist by a Burberry knight-logo belt.
Lee is certainly doing a fine job evolving this legacy brand forward into the future, no small feat for a house so deeply rooted in British history and culture. In fact, despite fashion always moving forward into the next season and the next trend, the industry can have a hard time figuring out what to do next, especially in an era when nostalgia rules the business. Lee is delicately balancing the Burberry archive with his current point of view, the house’s old DNA with some exciting new possibilities. One only needs to look toward the spring trench coats to see this middle ground manifested—a place where utilitarian outerwear meets elevated yet effortless style. Ultimately, the result is something that can be worn by anyone who invests in a piece of Burberry, inside, outside, and anywhere in between.
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