Bye Bye Bailey & Hello Tinseltown!

Christopher Bailey waved goodbye to a 17-year tenure at luxury British heritage house Burberry this London Fashion Week in a collection that plundered the archive for Eighties and Nineties sportswear references, the kind he sought to break free from when he commenced his role at the brand back in 2001. 

Burberry FW18 show in London. Picture by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION.

It was a continuation of last season’s checks, an homage to its inherent streetwear sensibilities that have long been at large looming in the background, the trench in every possible iteration having been more the focus of Bailey’s Burberry journey (as well as a push into all things digital, and supporting emerging musical talent). 

Here they took a backseat for puffa jackets and fleeces over ballgown skirts and billowy zip-up tops, shirts, and old-school sweatshirts; as it had done last season in a Supreme-mad and Palace-tastic fashion world, it felt a little bit late to the table and not quite the high note we wanted him to go out on. But perhaps this could be dubbed a reset for whoever comes in next to take over – speculation has flashed back and forth between ex-Louis Vuitton menswear designer Kim Jones and ex-Céline creative director Phoebe Philo. Or maybe it’ll be a design team effort. Who knows? Next season, either way, we will. 

Burberry FW18 show in London.  Picture by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION.

But ever since the brand switched to the much-hyped see-now-buy-now model, Bailey’s output too switched up from being quintessentially romantic, hallmark British, poetic and classic, to something more directional. Even the fact that last season’s collection decided to join in with (or rather re-join) the sport-street spree was testament to that. This was a mix of a collection, lots of ideas from lots of different times – Bailey’s and the brand’s. 

However, it was also a celebratory collection, its consumer sign-up email – sent out straight afterwards to alert loyal customers they could, of course, see it now and buy some of it now (a shift in the original plan), just off the runway – describing “a patchwork of characters and identities,” “a riot of colour.” The latter came by way of rainbow stripes, a symbol of inclusiveness and homage to the LGBTQ community, which were interspersed with those signature checks or made for gilets and coats, the bright brand slogans. 

Halpern FW18 show in London.  Picture by Regis Colin Berthelier for NOWFASHION.

A spectacular light installation made sure it was a proper show – Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell among the many Burberry faces there too – and just like that it was time to say goodbye. Meanwhile spirits were high at Halpern, Simone Rocha, and Markus Lupfer where sparkles – notably in the shape of tinsel at the former two – were the order of the day. 

Killer jumpsuits and tiny dresses cemented Michael Halpern’s status as London’s king of bling; the designer had collaborated with Christian Louboutin on disco boots and mules, while raiding the spirit of New York for a collection that encouraged you to go out come those depressing winter months. It’s not for wallflowers, but the appeal seems to lie in the simplicity of its message: fun party dresses that don’t take much more than the appreciation of unabashed glamour to understand.

Simone Rocha, too, looked at life through a magpie lens with tinsel strewn here and there among reference points that counted John Constable portraits: though, as a result, this collection felt like we had seen it before. She has a strong signature, yes, and it’s one that is much adored – what’s not to love about ribbons and bows and dresses that sum up the dictionary definition of pretty? But where chunky gorgeous coats and experiments with plastic fabrications in the past kept her spark, this – beautiful and desirable though it was – needed something else. The sashes, though, were an elegant note. 


See Burberry's FW18 ready-to-wear collection here. 

See Halpern's FW18 ready-to-wear collection here. 

See Simone Rocha's FW18 ready-to-wear collection here.