Christopher Bailey and Burberry Are Still Too Fashion Forward for Critics

Last runway season, Christopher Bailey received poor feedback from most critics for his Burberry Spring 2011 show. Editors complained that Bailey’s collection looked too cheap, too passé, too biker and too much like it was created with technology and the Internet in mind. They said the clothes looked like they were purposely seasonless and unimaginative, just so they could be sold immediately online.

A few months ago, we defended Bailey’s collection (after all, at least he made an attempt to take advantage of modern technology and business practices), but for his Fall 2011 Burberry Prorsum show, which took place this week in London, we thought there would be no need for Signature9 to come to Bailey’s defense. The clothes he turned out are overtly fall (Cathy Horyn at The New York Times dinged Bailey for ignoring spring influences in favor of clothes that could be worn right away last season), colorful, 60s-inspired and overall quite charming (love the cow print!). It seems, though, that many fashion critics are still unimpressed by Burberry and still complaining that Bailey’s embrace of technology has left his creativity in the dust.

Booth Moore at the Los Angeles Times said the show was “cute” and that “Bailey was right to keep the focus on outerwear,” but criticized Bailey’s clothes for being too far from the seasonless looks shoppers crave these days, which is funny considering Bailey was criticized last season precisely for being seasonless.

Suzy Menkes at The New York Times said Burberry was thinking too big, writing that “what [Burberry] gained in bombast, the once-quirky line lost in charm, cheek and irony that the designer Christopher Bailey has previously brought to the Burberry Prorsum brand.” She also said, “Burberry has to be careful that its brilliant and forward-looking embrace of the Internet does not leave too much behind — especially that ironic take on tradition, the British countryside and the brand heritage that Mr. Bailey can tweak so well.”

Looks like we need to weigh in again. Lucky for Bailey, though, it seems the general consensus among smaller fashion bloggers is that Burberry’s recent collection was highly impressive, and not just in comparison to the last show. We know we little old bloggers aren’t Anna Wintour or anything, but Fashionista, for instance, called Bailey “a master of the brand he has brought into the 21st century with ease.”

We won’t go on a rant about the importance of digital technology and the urgent need for fashion types to make like Bailey and embrace it already, but we will say this: thank goodness for Christopher Bailey. The show’s coats looked warm and realistic for winter, the tweeds and tights were just what we want to be wearing come fall and there was the perfect amount of bright colors mixed with snowy whites and neutrals – and Bailey’s managed to do this all while catering to the modern need for instant gratification by making the collection available very soon, not months from now like most other brands’ clothes. Bravo, Bailey!

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