Tisci’s newly United Kingdom of Burberry
A new broom at Burberry, a radical rebranding of Britain’s most important luxury label and altogether a first rate debut collection by Riccardo Tisci Tuesday evening.
The heart of the re-look was the new curvy Burberry signature house print. In case you didn’t get the idea, the Italian designer left a logo scarf on every guest’s seat in various hues.
Tisci ranged about the British class system in this show, opening with ladylike chiffon dresses and jackets worthy of a Mayfair Grande Dame and packing his catwalk with punk rock chicks, culled from his collaboration with Vivienne Westwood – to add a dash of street cred.
The show was staged deep in the heart of Vauxhall, south of the Thames, literally in the shadow of the new American Embassy. The invitation read 5PM, though the doors opened at 4PM, which was when hundreds of guests had already arrived, so intense was the interest.
The exact location was a postal sorting office, murky initially, then suddenly bathed in light as a giant curtain covering the transparent corrugated roof was pulled away. As the first chords of the dance anthem Massive Attack’s Unfinished Sympathy boomed out, a series of Japanese rice paper walls, leather curtains and plywood panels all slid silently into position. The staging was flawless throughout.
Tisci has clearly been working very hard, as the models coasted around the intricate maze of a catwalk in impeccably cut jackets; silk plissé skirts in big cat prints topped by logo baseball jackets; plush leather pencil skirts under cashmere rugby sweaters; or a sensational gray micro houndstooth wool trouser-suit with sleeves puckered and elbows done in stretch. Most notably some laser-cut trench coats dissected by elastic cummerbunds; an intriguingly cut trench-coat-dress with lots of straps and buckles. While a fluid leopard-print cocktail, worn with fanny pack and leather clutch with a bulbous golden B buckle, was the best-cut animal print look we’ve seen in ages.
The show was a bag full of clever design tricks. Like reducing the house’s legendary beige and red plaid to a series of vertical lines; or creating a new accessory – the separate elasticated sleeve, shown in gray houndstooth or classic trench-coat beige.
Tisci’s title is chief creative officer, and he came up with plenty of accessory winners too; sleekly snakeskin high heels with tiny lockets halfway down each heel; or a natty new bag with the bulbous B insignia.
“It’s nice to be back! I showed my debut student collection here in London, though this is something a little larger,” joked Tisci, wearing a black T-shirt with yet another new logo, an interlocking T and B.
“I have always loved London, and I love living here again. I am inspired every day by London and its eclectic diversity. And, every time I go into the archives of this house I find something more beautiful inside Burberry. It’s amazing!” added Tisci, who entitled the show "Kingdom".
During the countdown to his debut Tisci had sent out multiple messages recently on Instagram; from his photos of himself to images of giant B-logo bears in everywhere from Shanghai to Marble Arch. The Italian designer also radically overhauled the brand’s flagship store on Regent Street, hiring artist Graham Hudson to build a massive installation of raw scaffolding and concrete blocks. Much of this see-now-buy-now collection started selling there immediately after the show.
Not everything worked in this debut, many of the men’s tailored items were too close to his work at Givenchy; and a finale of evening wear – historically, the one weakness at Burberry – was a tad formulaic. And, while the show was impressively smooth and the clothes all were infused with plenty of Burberry sentiment and codes, at times the fashion statement was too literal. One longed to see a little more of the sexual panache and avant garde flourish that characterized Tisci’s best years at Givenchy in Paris, his previous job. Plus the show was at least half a dozen looks too long, slightly muffling the impact.
However, the net result was without question a triumph. A fresh wind blowing through Burberry, a runway crammed full of highly wearable, flattering and chic clothes. Britain’s biggest fashion brand is back in business.
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