Burberry debuts see-now, buy-now collection at London Fashion Week

Creative chief Christopher Bailey’s first show-to-retail collection was inspired by Virginia Woolf’s gender-shifting character Orlando, and full of fluid designs both men and women can wear

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 September, 2016, 12:09pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 September, 2016, 12:09pm

If you were prepared to stay up until 3am on Tuesday in Hong Kong watch the Burberry show at London Fashion Week online, you could immediately tap out an order for fashions you’d just seen paraded as part of the company’s first see-now, buy-now autumn collection. If not, you just had to wait for Burberry’s Hong Kong stores to open their doors to buy from the collection.

Although designers in New York launched show-to-retail collections last week, it was Burberry creative director and CEO Christopher Bailey who was the first to announce a see-now, buy-now policy. And what a collection the British fashion house put out to launch the concept – featuring both menswear and women’s wear with an interchangeability and fluidity to the designs.

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Bailey regards the trench coat as genderless, but the dark printed and striped silk men’s pyjamas worn by both sexes on the catwalk, the hussar jackets, velvet jackets, a shearling aviator and sweatshirts all have unisex appeal. Beautiful printed silk robes layered one on top of another as dresses, and a couple of gold lace designs, were among the few items that didn’t straddle the sex barrier. Everything looked so easy and wearable.

“We looked at how things could be interchangeable, interwoven with each other, and that they weren’t so specific to a gender or even to a way of putting it together,” explained Bailey after the show.

The concept was inspired by Virginia Wolf’s Orlando, a time-travelling character who seemingly switched sexes in his/her sleep.

“I liked the part where sleep and dreams happened and you wake up as somebody else,” said Bailey. “I think we are living in a moment of great change and it felt relevant.”