- Text Alex James Taylor
- 18th September 2018
When Riccardo Tisci was announced as the successor to Christopher Bailey’s defining seventeen-year tenure at the helm of Burberry – where the Yorkshire-born designer recast Burberry from a heritage British brand into a global luxury name – speculation, curiosity and questions were rife. But punctuating the shockwaves was a certainty: here was a designer with the chutzpah to take on such a role.
Just skim through the Italian designer’s CV. Having graduated from CSM in 1999 and previously run his own eponymous label, Tisci oversaw his own revolution as creative director at Givenchy. Reimagining the house’s woman – more Ibiza blowout than Roman Holiday – the designer took a storied Parisian powerhouse and put smouldering car wreckages on the runway, Kardashians-Wests on the front row and feral Rottweilers across tees. In many ways, Tisci foresaw today’s fashion landscape. The merge between luxury and streetwear: tick. Utilising social media’s inter-generational power: tick. Embracing a new era of celeb: tick, tick, tick.
Even before Tisci had revealed any actual clothes under his new title at Burberry, he was already shifting its direction. There was the new logo designed in collaboration with Peter Saville, the transformation of the Regent Street flagship store and the announcement that limited edition pieces from Tisci’s first collection will be available via Instagram immediately after the show. Already, Tisci’s blueprint was being drawn out and the groundwork had started.
To the show. Held in a vast South London Mail Centre, the venue had been transformed through mirrored pillars, cream armchairs and a lush beige carpet, while panels of glass interspersed the catwalk – with the lights set to a very low dim, there were serious lounge bar vibes. And on each seat sat a silk envelope adorned in the new logo, each containing a silk scarf.
Soundtracked by an exclusively designed soundtrack by Robert Del Naja from Massive Attack, Tisci called the show “a celebration of the cultures, the traditions and the codes of this historic fashion house and of the eclecticism that makes up the beautifully diverse United Kingdom.”
First came the chic, sophisticated section: Buttoned up, perfectly tailored trenches – of course – draping silk shirts; logo-ed pencil skirts; printed head scarves reimagined as belts; and archive house prints throughout – all in a spectrum of beige hues. Meanwhile the opening menswear looks followed suit with double-breasted jackets, pinstripes and brogues, while umbrella sheaths were carried across models’ backs and tied into place with tough silver chains and padlocks – perfect for the modern day John Steed (No? The Avengers – look it up).
Then it all flipped and things got very Tisci as we were introduced to the Burberry woman’s punkier sister – the “relaxed” alternative to the “refined”. Here, pieces began to appear deconstructed, sliced across the arms and legs to create new silhouettes, while trenches got shorter, logos reworked and punk-style patches and fonts were worked onto trousers, tops and vinyl overcoats. Menswear returned with a twin attitude: oversized rain ponchos with Darth Vader-esque headgear; loose, baggy suiting; boxy, utility shirts and animal prints, including one deer print that read “Why Did They Kill Bambi” – a reference to Burberry’s recent ban on using fur? Or a reference to the cult track Who Killed Bambi from the Sex Pistols’ The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle, written by Edward Tudor-Pole and a certain Vivienne Westwood? You’ll have to ask Riccardo about that. The show was guided to an elegant finish with a range of romantic evening looks: black and gold beaded gowns for the girls and impeccable dark tailoring for the lads.
Describing his Burberry as being for “mothers and daughters, fathers and sons”, Tisci said in the show notes: “I was thinking a lot about journeys as I started putting together my first Burberry collection. From my personal journey back to London 20 years after I showed my graduate collection here, to how far I have come.” Having come full circle, there’s a certain romance in Tisci being back in London that played out in his debut Burberry offering – in all its manifests.