The chaos – the disintegration of norms and boundaries, social and fashion – has rippled through how shows have been made and unmade this season. Riccardo Tisci served his own multi-messenger version of it for Burberry in London, a massive live event held at London’s Central Hall Westminster. That is to say, just opposite the Houses of Parliament, a seat of European democracy where, to quote Shakespeare, “chaos has returned”.
People massed together in the dark, unranked, unmasked, stepping back to make way for Riccardo Tisci’s models, friends and celebrity artists as they descended from somewhere high up into the wood-panelled auditorium. Dressed in the spectrum of Tisci’s ideas about global, generational and gender-nonconforming realities, British tradition and, of course, Burberry checks and trench coats, they climbed to pose on tables set in silver and crystal, like for a dinner in the country. A choir of a hundred people sang, an orchestra played.
“It’s a pieced together collection of what I find at Burberry and what I’ve been through as a human right now in Britain as well,” Tisci said ahead of the show. “It’s a different perspective – you know, the way you feel about it was a very different journey.” It explained the leveling, breaking all together of catwalk convention, except that the event simultaneously managed to be an explosive recovery of Burberry’s corporate position, a landmark of the British fashion industry. with a global reach.
Two collections have therefore been released, one for men and one for women. For women, he ran the gamut from plaid daywear to grand ballgowns to deconstructed evening trench coats. He said he pulled it together by focusing on waxed and quilted country coats, and removing the symbol of the knight Burberry Prorsum on horseback. There were blanket skirts and tartan capes. A crystal-embroidered knight rode in homage to the English through a pink twinset.
In both collections, there was a symbol of Burberry’s youth of the moment: a half baseball cap, topped with an Alice band. Sometimes it looked like a leather equestrian helmet, others a crazy mix of crystal and streetwear.
In a brand as big as this, the demand for a creative director is to keep tons of different people happy, feeding different narratives to groups who know little or nothing about each other. Yesterday, with a drop from the Burberry x Supreme collaboration, Tisci proved beyond doubt how he can reach fans far beyond the fashion bubble. “That was crazy,” he laughed. “Not just in London, but in America, in China. The numbers were really big.
He reflected on how he was initially intimidated into paying homage to Britishness, but now feels much freer to apply his own instincts. “I was scared,” he admitted. “You know, as an Italian, Britain is important – it’s such a historic country, with so much to say. So at first it was like the first kiss. It takes time, you know. And now I find my own way.
Furthermore, the world, especially its youth, has turned to embrace the diversity and inclusiveness that Tisci has pioneered in fashion since the start of his career. “People no longer want to be put in boxes. Not just the younger generation, but actually people in general. It is really the wish: people must cry freedom, with what is happening in the world. I try to be positive,” he concluded. “Sometimes we want to close our eyes to what is happening in the world. But, you know, being human together, we can change things slowly.