Daniel Lee's Debut Brings Burberry Home

Words by
Melanie Rickey

21st February 2023

No doubt about it, Daniel Lee's Debut brings Burberry home to its heartland, marking the return of insouciant Britishness to this most powerful of independent English fashion brands.

One of the T-shirts in the Burberry Autumn/Winter 2023 collection said it best. It read “Winds of change” and “Change is inevitable” across the front and snaking down the arm in bright red, capital lettering. Daniel Lee has arrived at Burberry, and with it a sense of the familiar, along with the wholly unfamiliar, including wildly clompy biker boots, shearling-covered high heels and coats so enveloping they could double as sleeping bags. 

Gone was the interlocked TB insignia brought in by former designer Riccardo Tisci. In its place is the charging Knight on horseback streaking across a dress in shimmering cobalt blue, reinstated as the key logo of the house. With it a sense of galloping into the future with Burberry putting its Englishness back at the centre of an international statement of intent.

Daniel Lee's Debut Brings Burberry Home
In his debut Daniel Lee featured variations on the Burberry check, presented in bold colours across tailoring, blanket coats and knits

The familiar? A front row primed for a fully choreographed photo op, all dressed in Burberry. On the front rows were Edward Enninful, Selma Blair, Martine Rose, Stormzy, Damon Albarn, South Korean footballer Son Heung Min, Naomi Campbell, former Burberry creative director Christopher Bailey, Anna Wintour, Baz Luhrmann and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.

Daniel Lee's Debut Brings Burberry Home
Iris Law, the daughter of Sadie Frost and Jude Law, modelled in the show.

Daniel Lee's Debut Brings Burberry Home

Out on the runway though, things were a little different than before. In the first interviews about his new role Daniel Lee talked about re-connecting Burberry with its British roots, specifically in Yorkshire, where he is from, and where the Gabardine for the Burberry trench coat is made. So it follows that the first and most apparent news from this show was a focus on phenomenally luxurious, statement outerwear grounded for use in everyday life.

The Daniel Lee Burberry trench coat is oversized with faux fur-trimmed lapels, his car coat deconstructed, and his duffle and aviator coats are exaggerated with soft silhouettes. Colours were strategic too - on the palette? Gen Z's favourite bright canary yellow hue, along with bright pops of raspberry red, cobalt and classic beige and navy.

Daniel Lee's Debut Brings Burberry Home
For his Burberry debut Daniel Lee revisited the classic duffle coat, offering it with with softer, roomier silhouettes.

Lee also played hard and fast with quirky British style, offering looks that are more "Frazzled English Woman"  than sexy siren. The new Burberry woman certainly won't be sharing strategic peeps of her torso next season. She'll be layering tartan-inspired kilts over trousers, argyle jumpers accessorised with safety pins, finished off with giant trapper hats and oddly appealing puffy ankle boots. This supposed mish-mash is a nod not only to Dame Vivienne Westwood, but also to the English country woman in general for whom literally 'throwing a look together' is an art form.

Daniel Lee's Debut Brings Burberry Home
This collection majored on British made Gabardine, the fabric invented by Thomas Burberry in 1879, and used it across coats and jumpsuits

Men had it a little sexier. Body-hugging blown-out check knits and trousers in lipstick colours were worn with punky zippered trousers, and hot guy leather jackets were thrown together with graphic T-shirts and hiking boots fit for the Yorkshire Dales.

Daniel Lee's Debut Brings Burberry Home
An English rose motif has been a recurring theme in Daniel Lee's new Burberry

Accessories are a core part of Lee’s strategy at Burberry and his reputation for creating iconic It bag styles at Bottega Veneta, including the Pouch Bag, has followed him into his new role, with all the expectation attached. At Burberry’s in-person investor day in November 2022, CEO Jonathan Akeroyd outlined his ambitions to grow accessories to more than 50 per cent of sales.

The casual shoe styles in this show drew on the functionality of the brand, from equestrian boots to rubber rain boots. Sneakers are amplified, whilst square framed sandals, mules and pumps included cosy faux fur and shearling.

His colourful grainy leather saddle bags and satchels featured tassles, horse motifs and an initial ‘b’ that forms part of its fastening. 

Daniel Lee's Debut Brings Burberry Home
'The Winds of change', and 'Change is inevitable'. Daniel Lee's T-shirt said it all along with safety pins, tartan, and a nod to the legacy of Vivienne Westwood as well as looking to a more, relaxed streetwear influence for Burberry

“I think the brand is about functionality,” he said after the show, before highlighting that all the trench coats in the show were made in Castleford, a town local to where he grew up. “I want it to be positive and I want to, hopefully, show some positivity about Britain to the world. So much creativity comes out of London. You walk down the street and you’re surrounded by people from so many walks of life, all living together. That’s something I missed in recent years and that’s what I’m trying to celebrate.”

Discover more about Daniel Lee.