“It’s the most Burberry collection, and it’s the most me collection I’ve done so far,” Riccardo Tisci said after his first IRL Burberry show since you-know-what. Almost a month after the start of London Fashion Week, the British brand has brought attention back to the British capital with a show held at Central Hall Westminster, a church opposite the Houses of Parliament, where laws are passed and daily events. . Inside, models made their way through a crowded melee of guests in the dark against a backdrop of a giant pipe organ, while a gigantic orchestra and choir sang. Dark, gothic and slightly ecclesiastical, there was no doubt that this was a Riccardo Tisci production. The world’s most famous models brushed past the audience, rising to dining tables covered in fine china and crystal. You had the idea. Riccardo’s vision for Burberry is rooted in the juxtaposition of class and subculture, high and low, dark and light. And given that last month face masks and social distancing became obsolete in England, it felt like the party was starting again. If only a little later than expected.
The collection itself marked a return to Riccardo’s examination of Britishness at a time when it could not have been a more fragmented notion. Even the British don’t really know what Britishness means anymore, at least the rest of the world. Applying his lens to the Italian, Riccardo reflects on what makes Britain so great since joining Burberry. In many ways, his vision is romanticized – but also, perhaps with patriotism at an all-time low, he serves as a radical counterpoint to notions of Britishness that seem truly outdated, in politics and culture. Britishness is a ‘potpourri’ of ‘very audaciously pieced together emotional images’, as he explained backstage. Punks rub shoulders with duchesses, school uniforms rub shoulders with tracksuits and “chav check” caps, the diversity of London streets facing the homogeneity of the English countryside. Sure, there are plenty of stereotypes about souvenir shops, but ultimately Riccardo has expanded on what Britishness can mean to a new generation, with all its quaint traditions, class divisions and silly eccentricities. It feels more modern than the usual tweeness associated with Britishness, and far more representative of the country’s unparalleled multiculturalism. It’s easy to forget that Riccardo pioneered catwalk diversity, both in terms of casting and design, long before it became a buzzword.
The parade was split into two parts: male and female. The former took shape with many school uniforms, sharp, dark clothes with hooded shirts worn underneath and baseball caps sticking out. It veered into outdoor jackets, cut-out hoodies, leather trench coats – as well as some rougher options. A trampled model in an all-leather ensemble, perhaps something to do with welding or humble craftsmanship; or underground gay clubs. The final looks came with very slightly feminine shearling cummerbunds worn across the chest, and there were wide skirts in fabrics to match the myriad types of outerwear on display. A pair of high-waisted chinos were so high and wide that they came to the chest, unbuttoned but lightly corseted. There’s probably some niche subcultural reference behind it – but ultimately it captured the hilarious silliness of British eccentrics. Not bad for an Italian.
Perhaps as a result of the new Burberry x Supreme collab, Riccardo decided to amp up womenswear with a dose of high-octane glamour. There was more evening wear on this show than ever before – a reminder that Riccardo learned a thing or two while working with haute couture seamstresses in Paris. Trench coats were transformed into strapless ball gowns, tuxedo shirts were dazzled by thousands of rhinestones, and dramatic feathered dresses trailed the floor. This, along with a myriad of trench coats, checks and daywear rooted in feminine country attire – pretty pink twinsets, polka dot pleated skirts, waxed velvet country jackets – not much different from the undercurrents seen on the podiums elsewhere throughout the season. Something about the country woman on horseback and outdoors caught the attention of designers this season.
“When I arrived, Burberry had done amazing things because it’s one of the oldest companies in the world,” Riccardo said. “But this was our bible of the trench coat, the car coat, the Harrington and the check. But people don’t just want to live in that, just like people don’t just want a black and white jacket at Chanel!” It took time, but there was a sense of confidence and belief in that show. , an elephant-in-the-room statement from a brand like Burberry. You could call it a Vibe Shift, the kind that has made so many things we’ve seen on the catwalk look old-fashioned, so much unwillingness to evolve with how much the world has changed. In the words of Riccardo: “Covid, it’s completely changed the game.”
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