Reputations simply don’t get much better than designer Christopher Bailey’s and he continued to impress in Milan. But this was not trademark Bailey, not quite. Instead of the sophisticated tonalities of his earlier palettes, this time round it was a stark black, white and grey that made romantic heroes of his models. Single breasted suiting and tapered trousers looked youthful and the knitwear included chunky cable and fairisle versions – all strictly commercial stuff. The monochrome palette meanwhile played out a clean contrast to the re-introduction of the house check in an oversized version on scarves and tops. Though it cleverly ensured a few headlines for the show, this was more than just a tease, the check can still ensure big business in export markets.
The oversized, overdyed tartans and the panelling on outerwear took commercial themes (checks and patchwork) and re-worked them in more sober, wearable and genuinely sophisticated styles. But with such a stark palette the devil was in the detail – white shirts had tiny rounded collars or bibfronts with hanging plackets and while the trench was once again re-worked (it must be in Bailey’s contract) and a cape introduced, shrunken tweed jackets were teamed with printed T-shirts and knitted cummerbunds for a casual vibe redolent of the Edwardian clerking classes.