On the approach, hundreds of teenage girls scream every time a car door opens, hoping to catch a glimpse of Chinese/ Canadian actor, singer and model Kris Wu. Who?! Doesn’t matter – he’s a big deal. Inside, once we’d waded through the paparazzi, we took our seats opposite Suki Waterhouse, Naomi Campbell and Penelope Cruz, all sitting cross-legged and camera-ready. Dotted about the giant Soho venue were the famous British artist Henry Moore’s imposing bronze sculptures, offset by Anna Wintour’s equally sculptural bob, which sat down in front of us. Singer Anna Calvi – positioned at the top of a spiral staircase – signalled the start of the show with an electric guitar solo.
With all this going on, it took a minute to focus on the clothes, which were directly inspired by the sculptures they weaved between. This season, Christopher Bailey worked with Moore’s daughter in researching the collection, and even took notes from the artist’s personal style. These references were most evident in the bold shapes and forms the silhouettes took, from exaggerated cuffs to abstract, deconstructed jackets and clean minimalist lines. There was a focus on curvature – imagine a sculptor curving a piece of clay in and then out to resemble the human form – which was seen in lace, frills, ruffles and hems.
All this culminated in one item: the cape. A piece of Burberry’s 161-year history, the cape was particularly fashionable in 19th-century Britain. In 2017 on the Burberry catwalk, the item was reset in plastic, in crystal, in pearl, in feather, in lace, and ruffled like a clown collar. To consolidate the trend, and kickstart the see-now, buy-now function of the new luxury fashion scene, Kendall Jenner picked one straight off the catwalk and wore it hours later to the Love magazine party.
The Burberry show is the grandest on the London Fashion Week schedule. It’s the time to show off our assets, as it were, and prove our place in the big four (New York, Milan, Paris, London), perhaps even more important in today’s global political climate. Christopher Bailey did this with aplomb, aligning high fashion with high art while reminding us of Henry Moore, one of the most iconic artists of the last century.