There was no doubt that Burberry chief creative officer Daniel Lee's first showing for the British brand was a stark departure from predecessor Riccardo Tisci's.
The debut—a collection that we're finally able to experience in boutiques now—was a return to Burberry's Britishness, replete with elements and motifs ripped from Lee's lived experiences as a Brit as well as from the brand's archives. The Burberry check was rendered at a slant and blown up (a simple but effective way of modernising the brand signifier) and the Equestrian Knight Design (EKD) revived as a complementary branding device.
For the Burberry Summer 2024 collection, Lee continued to reimagine the brand's heritage with an even more focused lens. Building a new visual vocabulary for a brand like Burberry is no mean feat. With the second runway collection, we're starting to see the fruits of that labour.
If the Winter 2024 collection was a foundational collection that at times may have seemed a bit chaotic—a mallard beanie and a cacophony of visuals ranging from roses to more mallards to the EKD—the Summer 2024 collection felt more intentional and evolved. Surprisingly, the latter was more subdued and less colourful than the debut. In fact, the 'knight blue' that Lee has adopted for Burberry was little to be seen on the runway.
The fit: The overall colour palette for the collection was relatively quite dark. Instead of knight blue, colours graduated from black to a dark green before branching off to richer hues.
Yet, at the same time, prints were a key focus of the collection. What appeared as though vintage scarf prints lifted from the Burberry archives were actually prints of metal hardware in the shape of a horse—part of the Knight bag introduced for Winter 2023—and chains. Similarly, a repeated motif of the clasp of the Rocking Horse bag too appeared as a print. Both prints adorned a number of ready-to-wear pieces, including a new take on the classic Burberry trench. Lee's intent was to reimagine the trench for the summer and that included making it more lightweight than ever—in look 47, the trench could be seen hung by the neck simply by a thin chain.
What I especially liked about Burberry Summer 2024 was how Lee doubled down on the brand's military past. And while that could have resulted in quite costume-y creations, the ready-to-wear looked simply at home. Epaulettes on shirting as well as outerwear extended well beyond the shoulder line, while the trench coats cut a sharp, regimental silhouette while still retaining a sense of modernity with a dropped waist and exaggerated belt.
The details: Lee may have kept the tailoring sharp but he injected off-kilter semblances in the styling as well as accessories. The collection's slip-ons for example (looks 41 and 45) were doused in rhinestones with the EKD fixed like one would a Crocs Jibbitz. Leather loafers were crafted with an extended leather buckle in the shape of the Burberry Shield bag and topped with the EKD. It's these constant details that help drive the message of the new subtle visual vocabulary of Lee's Burberry.
Three exceptional looks: The ease and simplicity of look 16's black fit embellished with cleverly printed trousers; look 23's printed coordinates that could easily be broken up into pieces that could stand on their own; and look 45's new take of dressed up casual in classic Christopher Bailey-era hues.
The takeaway: Burberry is back to being refined with doses of unexpected quirks—a truly Brit aesthetic.
View the full Burberry Summer 2024 runway collection in the gallery below.