x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

A giant leap forward for the Burberry brand

It was perfect weather for a Burberry show: torrential rain outside, "laser" rain projected on to walls of the marble (yes, marble) marquee inside.

High-collared flying jackets and ultra-feminine skirts were prominent in the show, which was broadcast online.
High-collared flying jackets and ultra-feminine skirts were prominent in the show, which was broadcast online.

It was perfect weather for a Burberry show: torrential rain outside, "laser" rain projected on to walls of the marble (yes, marble) marquee inside. While my colleagues in the UAE were donning their 3D specs for a live stream in a specially designed screening room at The Address hotel in Dubai Mall, I was experiencing the real thing at the Chelsea College of Art & Design, just down the road from Burberry's Horseferry Road headquarters.

Even the pre-show soundtrack was the pitter-patter of raindrops. (As if we needed a reminder it was pouring outside - we and our Burberry trench coats had all got soaked while we queued as you do in London, waiting to get in.) Then the houselights dimmed and the words, "Tokyo", "LA", "New York", "Paris" and "Dubai" flashed up on the infinity backdrop, reminding us what we and the fashionistas of those five cities - and, according to Burberry, 100 million viewers online - were about to see.

What were the benefits for those of us watching the show in Chelsea? Just along and a few rows in front of me were Kate Hudson, Kristen Stewart, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen and pretty much every fashion A-lister, from Vogue's Anna Wintour and Carine Roitfeld to Stephen Gan, the founder of the magazine Visionaire. But to be honest, all this paled into insignificance when a fleet of statuesque models wearing flying jackets, military coats and thigh-high boots thundered down the catwalk to the slickest (and loudest) soundtrack we've heard all week.

If you are going to beam a fashion show globally, this is how you do it: with a runway groaning with highly covetable, super-luxury pieces on models charging $1,000 (Dh3,673) an hour. It's aspirational, brand-flagging stuff. Anyone watching online who didn't happen to know what Burberry Prorsum stood for five minutes earlier will now place it up there with Dior or Chanel - which makes this show the biggest advert for a luxury brand yet.

The fashion mob certainly didn't need 3D glasses to see the craftsmanship and utterly luxurious fabrics behind the military and utility-inspired collection, either. These were clothes for the globetrotting CEO or managing director who wants her wardrobe to look as accomplished as she is. Key pieces included the high-collared flying jacket (not just in sheepskin but also in furry brown with matching epaulettes) as well as parkas, khaki greatcoats and oversized nautical pea jackets. Conspicuously absent was the trench coat but, hey, we've seen that.

Stiff, neatly tailored outer-layer jackets had shiny gold buttons and were teamed with ultra-feminine pencil skirts in ribboned panels of shiny satin or ruched velvets in shades of misty grey, rose and petrol. And, always, heels. It wasn't necessarily the most fashion-forward collection of the week but it was the show you would remember. And if I had a couple of thousand dirhams burning a hole in my pocket, I'd immediately place an order on the Burberry website (another first, by the way) for one of the huge snakeskin shoppers in turquoise and a pair of stiletto-heeled, buckled sheepskin ankle boots. And perhaps one of those flying jackets, especially knowing I could get it within a month rather than having to wait until September.

There were shows before (and sadly, after) Burberry, but none worth mentioning. All in all, I'd say it was one small step for the fashion show, one giant leap for Burberry.