Daniel Lee’s Burberry is a step back, a step forward

For A/W 2023 the designer’s first collection was a return to brand values, but a sign of great things to come.

Burberry occupies an isolated space as a lauded ‘British’ brand. Exactly how much that title means in the 21st Century is debatable (it’s the question that creates the tension as a creative source), but the company’s historical success means when things do happen, they make news, at least in British fashion circles.

What other British high-fashion creators are there? A duet of talented but connected females in Mrs. Beckham and Ms. McCartney. And now Daniel Lee stirs things from within the Burberry fold.

Hit Maker 

Lee is famous for his three-year spell as creative director at Bottega Veneta; creating accessories that appeared enlarged and forged by a 3D printer with a BV manual. Hits that trendy celebrities liked to wear. Which is what Burberry needs. 

Burberry is often in need. It’s debatable whether the 169-year-old company has ever conquered the commercial and creative regions it seeks to exploit. It has a complicated relationship with its past that mirrors Britain’s own imperialist history.

Complicated Past

For Christopher Bailey in the 2000s, necessity dictated downplaying certain aesthetic points, updating the cut, and deepening the facade with richer, intricate fabrics and patterns (he also understood the promotional role celebrities could play). 

Ricardo Tisci’s relationship to oeuvre and marquee offered some of the more creative explorations of the brand’s ubiquitous check and gabardine products. But his exit suggested those who take the B-wheel must remember the brand’s stock in trade was adventure/military apparel before runway fashion was even a thing. 

Ready to Explore 

Daniel Lee’s show positioned him as a less flamboyant successor, in keeping with these values. In fact, some of his coats and hats could have been worn by Shackleton and crew on their 800-mile boat trip to South Georgia. 

The shoes were more catwalk-frenzy aligned. And then Lee slipped in blue and yellow color shots; asymmetrical slants on the check pattern that makes you realize that the stars and the sun are his exploratory reference points. 


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