Down to the woods

Burberry SS21
Fashion | 17 September 2020

Burberry’s SS21 collection offered an inclusive ticket as the show was transmitted across the brand’s very own Twitch page – hosted by Erykah Badu, Bella Hadid, Steve Lacy and Rosalía, discussing the collection in real-time. For those not in the know, Twitch is a live-streaming platform mainly used by gamers to chat, share screens and interact. Links have replaced invites, for this season at least.

Here, the click of a finger transported viewers to the British countryside, where a woodland setting lay in wait. Half-Midsummer Night’s Dream, half-Midsommar, models walked out between the trees wearing Riccardo Tisci’s latest offering for the British fashion house. Titled In Bloom, the collection was the designer’s conversation with nature spoken through symbols of regrowth, renewal and the circle of life. “The collection is called In Bloom because I was thinking about regeneration, about dynamic youth, about nature constantly recreating itself, always growing and evolving, always alive,” said Tisci. “Water is a symbol of that also – of newness, freshness and cleansing. And through water, life grows – water is what allows nature to bloom. Everything is circular.”

Suddenly the circular set made sense, and as looks became clear, so did Tisci’s vision. Dawing lines between the mythical and the natural, delicate details of tulle and chiffon were juxtaposed with fishnets studded with crystals that resembled mermaid scales – show notes described an unorthodox “love affair between a mermaid and a shark.” Elsewhere beasts of the real world and mythical appeared as abstract prints and disheveled aprons hung across bodies as if post-maul.

As for menswear, Tisci’s inspiration drew from “the rugged elegance and practicality of the wardrobes of seafarers with rubberised finishes, hardy denim and Thomas Burberry’s gabardine.” This materalised via bulky overcoats and caps that made us think of Robert Eggers’ excellent film The Lighthouse, and portholes cut into garments as windows to different layers.

SS21 also marked Tisci’s first artist collaboration at Burberry, working with contemporary German artist Anne Imhof. Famed for her arresting performances, paintings and in-your-face installation work, here, Imhof gathered a group of performers amongst the trees. As time went on, this gathering moved between one another, ebbing and flowing together as a physical wave – “transforming fiction into fact as the real becomes unreal.” A dialogue between humans and nature (the brand planted 10,000 trees in the British countryside this season), the performance was backed by artist and musician Eliza Douglas, who performed a unique real-time soundtrack of reverberating chords that echoed through the trees like a wild birdsong.

GALLERYCatwalk looks from this show