In recent seasons, Burton had waded deep into British history. And while that must have been personally gratifying, the resulting collections often looked more like costumes than clothes. There was a bit too much authenticity in her historical references. For fall 2019, she mined her personal memories of growing up in the north of England surrounded by textiles mills and a pastoral landscape. She returned to those mill towns, took advantage of the fabrics produced there and found inspiration in the countryside. In essence, she set out to explore the raw materials of design and the beginnings of her own story as a designer.
There were a lot of associations for her clothes, and she described them all in a set of show notes that read almost like a diary. “Sharply tailored masculine suits with a strong shoulder, defined waist and fluid asymmetric drapes are cut in worsted flannels in shade of charcoal gray and anthracite and edged with a ‘Made in England’ selvage. They are woven in the mill towns that are the very soul of the British textile industry.”
But even if you don’t know any of the background of these clothes, it’s possible to appreciate them on their own. One well-tailored jacket blends Glen plaid with herringbone; on another the navy chalk stripes are slightly off-kilter. Both are worn with spiked work boots with sturdy rubber soles.
Burton combines menswear with a hint of the feminine, and backstage after the show, she noted that we all want a bit of armor, but we also need a human embrace, a gentle touch, a kind hand. She introduced softness with printed dresses, fabric swirled into enormous flowers and the gorgeous curves highlighted by corsetry.
One of the most beautiful pieces in the collection were plum-colored trousers with an elegant corset and side drape. It was masculinity and femininity as one. Strength and softness. It needed no explanation.
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