Burberry slows it down, exploring the handcrafts for spring/summer 2012 menswear

MILAN – There’s an inherent message in Burberry Prorsum’s menswear collection for next spring and summer. Slow down.

Designer Christopher Bailey isn’t trying to hit anyone over the head with the thought. It’s more by example.

Bailey has put craftsmanship at the heart of the collection – and not the kind of crafts normally associated with men’s clothing. There’s crocheting, stitching, embroidery and handblock prints.

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“I wanted to celebrate the idea of craftsmanship. I love the whole digitalization of the world. But I don’t think one has to be at the expense of the other,” Bailey said backstage after Saturday’s preview.

In fact, each of the models in the finale carried alligator iPad sleeves.

From the exercise of crafts, emerged an array of ethnic references, which Bailey said was a natural part of the process. “I think just the idea of making things by hand immediately becomes ethnic,” he said.

Geometric shapes around the neckline were suggestive of traditional Native American dress. Block prints gave a textured look to tops and sweaters, with pebbling giving way to bold shapes. Circular patterns on T-shirts suggest ancient art.

Burberry’s native Scotland, too, had its due. Most of the outfits were topped with a hand-crocheted raffia golfing hat, complete with a pompon. Shoes were cork soled-moccasins or easy loafers at times contrasted with woven tapestry.

Colours tended toward the earthy, with flashes of garnet, beets or bright indigo.

The clothing was easy to wear, and pack, perhaps in a Burberry braided leather tote. Loose, oversized parkas with crocheted, detachable collars could be worn over light swim trunks. A sturdy fishermen’s knit sweater jacket with side pockets twins effortlessly with a pair of trousers.

“I wanted it to feel easy and not contrived,” Bailey said. “I wanted it to feel designed as well.”

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