The runway at Burberry was a hurricane of handcrafted detail -- from the crocheted raffia caps all the way down to the cork-soled leather loafers with raffia contrasts, if there was an opportunity to make something look hand-hewn (wood toggle buttons on jackets) hand-sewn (shirts with chunky felt bird appliques blanket-stitched over the heart), hand-shredded (raffia trim on jackets) or hand-beaded (detachable crochet collars set with wooden beads), chief creative officer Christopher Bailey seized it with gusto.
Bailey's goal wasn't to create a collection that would be instantly recognizable by feel in a darkened room (though he did do that); he was trying to celebrate craftsmanship. This was a theme that was bubbling up through several other shows on the first day of Milan Fashion Week (most notably John Varvatos), but Bailey really hammered home the point: In this day and age, when technology has made it possible to do to a garment almost anything that can be imagined (except for that whole cloak of invisibility thing), true luxury now means doing it by hand.
Bailey did it in an over-the-top fashion (I'm not sure exactly where those raffia caps belong -- except maybe on the Jamaican bobsled team or the dudes circle-dancing at the Coachella Music Festival) but maybe he's just overcompensating a bit since Burberry's been pushing the digital envelope just about as hard as he's been mining the brand's heritage, and this collection could be ordered instantly at the Burberry website.
There were explicit nods to the brand's heritage beneath the raft of raffia -- a check lining here, a few throat latches there, some gabardine, some trench coats and a liberal sprinkling of the Burberry crest.
But the takeaway was unmistakable: the slow fashion movement has crept in on little cork soles.
-- Adam Tschorn in Milan
Photos: Looks from the Burberry Prorsum spring and summer 2012 men's runwway collection, shown on June 18, 2011, during Milan Fashion Week. Credit: Olivier Morin / AFP/Getty Images