Bailey’s on Fire

Yesterday I previewed the Burberry Prorsum men’s and women’s collection for Fall 08 at the Michigan Avenue store. For those of you who don’t know, that’s the upscale collection offered by Burberry. Kudos to Christopher Bailey for finally producing a collection that relies on savvy craftsmanship and design rather than the vulgarities of marketing. By my count, it is his first one.

Rose Marie Bravo turned a billion dollar profit from plastering that damn plaid willy nilly on everything but the kitchen sink. She never cared a whit about style or design. Perhaps the only forgivable thing she ever did was to hire and nurture Christopher Bailey.

What Rose Marie cared about, my dear, was marketing. And market she did to the “Coach bag, Burberry scarf, baggy capris and sneaker” narcoleptic parade that one has to gingerly navigate every weekend on Michigan Avenue or at any local mall in any take-your-pick-tri-state diaspora. It was never pretty but it sure made a few people wildly rich.

Unlike Gucci under Domenico de Sole and Tom Ford, Burberry never managed to produce any exceptional clothing along with the (profitable) offending visual pollution that could justify its existence.

Gasp if you must, but I’m not telling Burberry anything it doesn’t already know. Everyone there is keenly aware that only dead men wear plaid.

With Rose Marie now having laughed all the way to the bank and into the sunset, the company must reinvent itself as a design house if it intends to differentiate itself and its wares from what can be copied and bought for $35 on Any Corner, USA.

So, I’m happy to report that Mr. Bailey has managed to produce a beautiful, wearable, deliriously covetable couture-with- an-edge inspired collection with nary a screeching plaid in sight.

His Spring collection was entirely off the mark and what they call in retail parlance “challenging.” (That means that they couldn’t sell much of it because you looked silly in most of it.)

Fall 08 is an entirely different story. The clothes don’t (only) look cool in print but hot on people you know. When was the last time you could say that about Burberry?

The men’s collection is so sleek it might actually be right up there with Neil Barrett as my favorite for Fall. Mr. Bailey’s women’s coats and jackets stand up to any international collection. The bags are pure decadence.

If you want to read between the lines–and lighten the mood a bit– click on the video from style.com and watch how, um, delicately the fashionistas who need to keep their invitations in the front row say what I’ve just said here.


Thea Robinson is the ultra chic and very personable new manager of the Michigan Avenue store. Drop by the store in a few weeks when the collection starts delivering, bring your credit card and tell Thea that Tom says hi.

TheBestDressedList.com

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