In front of a stellar crowd that included industry royalty Christopher Bailey and Naomi Campbell alongside music icons Skepta and Damon Albarn, Daniel Lee revealed his debut Fall 2023 collection for storied British house Burberry at London Fashion Week.
The pressure on Lee – a combination of expectation after his revolutionary (yet controversial) turn at Bottega Veneta and the tipping point for a cultural boom one feels is overdue for Burberry – was palpable, even for those of us watching via digital means.
Only recently named as the 167-year-old brand’s new chief creative officer, Lee had teased a return to “Britishness” in the lead up to the collection’s unveiling. A brief campaign featuring peak Britannia references including a Gallagher scion, Dame Vanessa Redgrave and Skepta – it was more a moodboard of what to expect. Prorsum, indeed.
What was delivered on the runway was a referential reboot of the brand, if not an entirely nostalgia-driven. Which is probably smarter, no matter how much those of us who wanted Lee to pick up exactly where former CCO Christopher Bailey left off in the mid-00s.
But it was there. The 37-year-old Lee would have been a teenager when Burberry was swept up in the Anglomania at the end of the 20th century when Kate Moss, Stella Tennant, Liam Gallagher were the new faces of the brand. Impressionable years but also an era that’s gained favour in pop culture’s endless revisionism of decades past.
Opening the show was a trench. Pure Burberry in theory but delivered with a Lee touch of emerald faux fur collars that carried the history of the brand while looking forward to the future.
The most recognisable sign of the Bailey era, the nova check that was scratched under Riccardo Tisci, is now back but manipulated enough so as not to be a relic but rather a new evolution of the design suitable for today.
The check, and its Northern cousin the tartan, appeared in clashing shades of referentially British hues: mustard, green, regal purples. Aran and argyle jumpers spoke to England’s pastoral past.
Casual-inspired footwear, including equestrian-inspired boots, balanced the weight of knitwear. While Tisci wanted to electrify the Burberry experience with sharp edges, Lee is rounding them back out, bringing back its association as a brand known for functional performance.
While re-embracing the country estate DNA of Burberry, Lee isn’t letting go of its streetwear credibility built up over recent years. This is straight out of the Bailey/Bravo playbook – a brand that can speak to luxury buyers while retaining urban clout.