- Associated Press - Monday, September 19, 2011

LONDON (AP) - If ever there was a designer who could work endless magic on a single garment, it’s Burberry Prorsum’s design chief Christopher Bailey and the luxury brand’s signature trench coat.

With prints, delicious colors and myriad styles both ladylike and sporty, Bailey wowed a star-studded crowd Monday with dozens of variations of the trench coat at Burberry’s catwalk show for London Fashion Week.

The Burberry show is the weeklong fashion extravaganza’s glitziest production, and drew a well-groomed crowd of celebrities including Kanye West, actresses Sienna Miller and Gemma Arterton, and tennis star Andy Murray.

Bailey, who has been at the helm of the historic British brand’s designs for a decade, has been credited with revitalizing the once-fusty fashion house and boosting its international style credentials.

For the spring and summer 2012 season, he dished up a commercially savvy collection that ensured the clothes suited all tastes.

The classic waterproof trench _ a Victorian-era innovation credited to brand founder Thomas Burberry _ appeared variously in a slim-cut, buttery turquoise leather version, or with a feminine, cinched-in and full-skirted silhouette reminiscent of Christian Dior’s New Look shape in the 1950s.

It also took the guise of cocoon-shaped jackets with poofy sleeves, as well as cropped, hooded parkas _ all retaining the gun flaps, epaulettes and utility features of the original coat.

Neutrals were ditched for rich autumnal hues such as rust, burnt orange, hunter green and mustard, which dominated alongside colorful abstract prints that looked tribal and earthy.

Raffia was everywhere, and woven, beaded or geometrically shaped embellishments were prominently used on tops, coats, thick belts and oversized bags.

“I thought it was fabulous,” a smiling Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour said, before disappearing into the crowds.

Bailey said he wanted to celebrate traditional craftsmanship, such as hand weaving and beading, that is being forgotten _ and to juxtapose that with the digital technology that the brand is embracing.

“I like the fact that what we’re actually showing takes time. It’s slow and it’s really beautiful,” he told The Associated Press after the show, staged in a conservatory-like tent in Kensington Gardens just across from the Royal Albert Hall.

That is in direct contrast with the instant, online social media-driven marketing strategy that Burberry has been focusing on in the past few seasons. Shows are live-streamed around the world _ including on prominent Chinese websites to cater to the brand’s significant number of wealthy Chinese customers _ and anyone who fancied the brand new runway styles can order them online straight away.

On Monday, the company even showed its Twitter fans each model’s look before they hit the runway.

“We are 155 years old, but it’s a very young team,” said Bailey, 40. “I just think it’s a natural extension of our company.”

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