Daniel Lee makes his Burberry Debut
“Dialing up on Britishness,” Burberry’s rallying cry as it attempts to carve itself a more resonant niche in the battle of the big-time brands, would appear to lend itself to the naturally abrasive instincts of its latest standard bearer. Daniel Lee turned Bottega Veneta around with a stark, confrontational aesthetic that lit a fire under the house. Burberry’s new CEO Jonathan Akeroyd is clearly hoping he’ll work the same dark magic here. And why not? What is “Britishness” now but a populist breaking down of decency and dignity and common sense, presided over by the decadence of a ruling party which gleefully plugs the Tory into “predatory?” Perfect fodder for a beady-eyed insurrectionist like Danny “The Red” Lee.
Well, that’s not what happened on Monday night. The show’s purpose-built venue was mere steps from the Oval, home of cricket, which centuries-old tradition dictates is the national sport. And the almost-cosy reassurance of tradition weighed heavy on Lee’s debut collection for Burberry. Post-show, he lavished praise on the brand’s archivist, who compiled for him references to fabrics and accessories from the past. Some of those fabrics from old English mills were a century old. Cut into a languid 1920′s-style tea-dress or a floating chiffon tent, they looked practically primed for a weekend party in a country house in a faraway time and place.
Lee celebrated Burberry’s foundational outdoors-iness in a decoy duck print, in the substantial wellies, in the dangling (faux) fox tails, in the fishing lures (they were actually fake feathers, i.e. fishing lures) that adorned a lustrous blue caftan. And hardy plaids and trench coats, of course. All of that “very British” in Lee’s eyes, because he saw the essence of the brand as “functionality.” One of Akeroyd’s major directives is to activate accessories. That’s Lee’s big challenge, because Burberry has never really had such a narrative. So he showed bags which, in their un-precious bulk, were designed, in his words, to be chucked on the floor. And that’s the kind of function that speaks to a world choking on frou-frou.
Visit Burberry on Nedre Slottsgate in Promenaden Fashion District.