Burberry puts on star-studded London catwalk show

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A model wears a creation by designer Burberry Prorsum during its show at London Fashion Week, Monday, Feb. 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Joel Ryan)

LONDON (AP) — They say weather is a national obsession in Britain — but perhaps more for Burberry Prorsum's Christopher Bailey than for most.

With a clap of thunder and a torrent of realistic rain running down the sides of a glass tent, the luxury brand's creative chief sent his umbrella-toting models down the catwalk in a finale that brought a smile to everyone's face.

Burberry, which stages its twice yearly runway shows in its own temporary Hyde Park tent, is the biggest and glitziest production during London Fashion Week. On Monday, the autumn and winter 2012 display drew a huge crowd of buyers and spectators, including a host of international stars such as Hollywood actress Kate Bosworth, celebrity photographer Mario Testino, and even Korean pop group Girls' Generation.

"I quite like celebrating rain," said Bailey, who has been credited with revitalizing the once-fusty fashion house and boosting its international style credentials. He's also known to create a spectacle using weather elements: Last year, he filled his catwalk with fake snow.

"I like the romance. I quite like the melancholy," he said of the rain.

It wasn't just the rain that was British — much of the detailing on the clothes was, too. There was velvet quilting, corduroy, herringbone wool and tweed caps, riding jackets and skirts, and of course various incarnations of the brand's most famous garment, the trench coat.

Bailey said the collection was a study in merging city style and country living. Bridle leather straps, shearling parkas and the use of quilting were evocative of the horse-riding country lifestyle of the English upper class, while the appearance of cute owl drawings and appliques on some of the collection's T-shirts and sweaters, as well as gold metal fox belt buckles, were a fun and quirky take on the "country" theme.

"I like the idea of celebrating the country, celebrating the town," Bailey said after the show.

A huge range of coats and jackets made up much of the collection. Some were cinched in with candy-colored belts with bows, while others had masculine tailored shoulders and large pouches. Cropped, down-filled puffer jackets were paired with tweed ruffled pencil skirts, giving the ladylike look a sporty twist.

The most striking coat was the one Bailey chose for his finale — a quilted, belted creation in deep royal purple, cinched in at the waist but flaring out in a full skirt.

Colors were rich and autumnal, with mustard, burgundy, blackcurrant and forest greens, while wide horizontal stripes in gray, navy and honey kept the look young and vibrant.

"I like it because it's British and I'm British," joked Leah Weller, a 20-year-old singer and model, who added that she was particularly fond of the gold-studded black gloves and clutch bags on show.


Associated Press writer Raphael Satter contributed to this report.