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Fall 2009: For Burberry nostalgia means 'checks please'

January 17, 2009 |  7:13 pm

AW09 Burberry Prorsum Menswear For Burberry Prorsum, creative director Christopher Bailey continued his short course in British contributions to the arts, after last season's Derek Jarman-inspired collection with a nod to renowned UK photographer Bill Brandt and the idea of "modern nostalgia" evoked by his photographs of England.

Like Dolce & Gabbana's trek back to Sicily earlier the same day, Burberry looked back fondly, playing up the idea of roots and connectedness. (No small wonder the company used the occasion to announce it had finally consolidated offices to Horseferry Road in the heart of Westminster, "home of the English, subsequently British and United Kingdom Parliament since the 13th century.")

But, the 153-year-old company hardly had to relocate its HQ to evoke the past; all Bailey needed to do was pull out and dust off the instantly recognizable Burberry check pattern -– which had been pretty much absent from the runway for the last few seasons.

Seeing the scarves -– as well as a few shirts -– in the heritage plaid was like old-fashioned comfort food being ladled in among the peasant-y looking garb: string ties, cloth newsboy caps, herringbones and chunky cable knits (although Bailey himself strikes me as the sort Brit that might actually appreciate a good shepherd's pie). And it was just the prescription to calm an anxious stomach.

Rage_burberry1_2 I caught Bailey backstage after the show briefly before he disappeared into a scrum of well-wishers, and asked him if the economy was in the back of his mind in designing a collection he described in the show notes as "calm, earnest and poetic."
"It kind of has to be in the back of everyone's minds, doesn't it?" he replied.

Which is why, just in case you missed the motif,  the runway finale featured every model sporting a scarf in the iconic check pattern, and a bottle of Burberry's new scent was stashed at every seat. (Called The Beat, it launched stateside in September and is currently rolling out in Europe) -– two less expensive ways for cash-strapped consumers to continue to tap into Burberry's rich brand heritage.

Think of it as nostalgia on a shoe-string budget.
--Adam Tschorn

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Photos from Burberry Prorsum Autumn/Winter 2009 Menswear collection in Milan, January 17, 2009, by Peter Stigter.