All eyes on Burberry at London Fashion Week
Rarely has any fashion week felt like its success was riding on one brand. Yet, that’s very much the mood entering the next edition of London Fashion Week, when all eyes will be on the debut of Riccardo Tisci at Burberry.
Tisci’s entrance marks the first change of designers in 15 years chez Burberry, Britain’s only truly giant global luxury brand. An Italian entering into a city that has rarely allowed non-British talent to helm its storied marques.
Helping to built the drama, Tisci’s debut is scheduled for 5pm on Monday 17th, one of some 70 collections and designer presentations on the official London calendar. The season officially opens on Friday morning September 14th, with a show by young hopeful Richard Malone and ends on Tuesday evening, September 18th.
However, Tisci will be familiar with the management team at Burberry since the man who chose him, CEO Marco Gobbetti, was his boss for several years when this duo ran Givenchy, the highly respected LVMH brand.
Expect Tisci to be iconoclastic at Burberry. During his tenure at Givenchy he served up a mix of Mediterranean imagery, religious iconography and street chic; whereas he successor at Givenchy, Clare Waight Keller has pointedly embraced that house’s heritage with multiple homages to the founder’s muse, Audrey Hepburn.
Tisci has already put his stamp on the UK brand – with a new chubby B logo, revamped from an archive print, though in the label’s signature plaid color range of beige, black and red.
An image seen everywhere from this month’s editions of major fashion magazines, bus stops in Manhattan, billboards in London and even a huge teddy bear in Shanghai.
Tisci arrives after several years of weakening global revenues at Burberry. Moreover, the brand has been buffeted by some very negative publicity, most notably their bizarre decision to literally destroy millions worth of its own products. A decision rapidly reversed after damaging reaction on social media.
However, Burberry’s decision to stop using fur, and the announcement by the British Fashion Council that the season would be fur-free should guarantee the end of the intense and noisy protests that marked recent London fashion weeks, when editors and VIPs literally had to run a gauntlet to get into certain shows, with scores of security and London bobbies barely maintaining control.
It is useful to recall, that under Tisci’s predecessor Christopher Bailey Burberry’s worldwide revenues more than tripled. So, Tisci will be under immediate pressure to generate sales. Burberry alone accounts for almost one third of the entire collective turnover of all the fashion houses showing in London. Quite literally a British behemoth.
Elsewhere, locals are most excited about the return of Victoria Beckham to London, after a hiatus of almost a decade in New York. As she did in Manhattan, Victoria has chosen an early Sunday morning slot.
While sister designer, and all round It Gal Alexa Chung will stage her first proper runway show on Saturday. Previously, Chung only staged presentations, many of them in Paris.
Tisci has also got in on the sister act, a collaboration with Vivienne Westwood, which kicks off this Friday. Featuring iconic Westwood looks, though all in Burberry plaid, it begins retailing online.
Another important runway debut will be Nicholas Kirkwood, the highly inventive shoemaker who will take his first stab at a runway ready-to-wear show.
Also making her debut will be Stephanie Phair, the new chairman of the British Fashion Council, which oversees the London season. Phair, an experienced executive from Farfetch, succeeds Natalie Massenet, the founder of Net-a-Porter, to whom most people would give extremely high marks for her tenure at the BFC - boosting funding, mentoring and Internet intelligence for a whole generation of young UK talent.
And few people expect to miss the latest show of Richard Quinn. Since last season he nabbed the most impressive front row guest of all time, Queen Elizabeth II.
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