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Burberry takes a walk on the wild side

The Association Press
Modified: February 22, 2013 at 4:03 pm •  Published: February 22, 2013

LONDON — Burberry Prorsum has taken its classic trench coats on safari for a makeover.

In a catwalk show that drew stars such as Kate Beckinsale and Michelle Dockery to its front row Monday, the luxury British brand updated its coats with calfskin and mink in bold leopard and giraffe prints, cinched in with glossy gold belts.

The slick runway display — the glitziest of London Fashion Week shows — was just the latest example of how deftly creative director Christopher Bailey combined Burberry's venerable English roots with trendy designs to produce clothes and accessories coveted by women worldwide.

Bailey said he stuck to elegant fabrics like cashmere and a classic palette of camel, oxblood, black and white for his new autumn collection, but injected contrast and playfulness with new fabrics like plasticized leather.

Those certainly are not for the conservative dresser. A camel trench coat had its sleeves, gun flaps and skirt made of a brown rubber, while another trench coat is made in shiny wine-colored PVC. A tight translucent rubber skirt revealed flirty heart-print knickers underneath.

Bailey said his inspiration was "classics mixed with Christine Keeler," an English showgirl who became the talk of the town after it emerged she had an affair with a Conservative minister in the 1960s.

"I quite like that idea of taking something very established and very classic, with something that's a little bit naughty and sexy," he told The Associated Press after the show.

Python-printed leather joined the various big cat prints on skirts and jackets, and gold hardware was prominent in the collection. A suede coat was splashed all over with pieces of gold metal in a leopard pattern, while leather skirts, tops and bags were studded with numerous metal eyelets and short leather tassels.

For those looking for a subtler style that still makes an impact, there were satin dresses and separates in wide horizontal block stripes of navy and burgundy or bronze and black.

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