Seats were being taken on September 17th for the debut of Riccardo Tisci’s highly anticipated, re-designed Burberry collection. In March 2018, Christopher Bailey, announced that after 17 years he would sign off as the Chief Creative Officer of Burberry. This news shortly preceded scandalous reports of Burberry burning almost $38 million dollars’ worth of unsold merchandise in 2017 to avoid products being sold on the black market or being copied. This was met with outrage from activists protesting the ecological and socioeconomic ramifications of the fashion house’s actions. Shortly after, Burberry recruited Riccardo Tisci, a Givenchy alumni and costume designer for Beyonce, Rihanna, and Madonna, to reinvigorate the brand and bring a new audience to the fashion house.
Prior to Tisci’s debut, a new logo and print were released. The Burberry logo, which was once known for it’s regal gold cursive font, is now in modern, black, block text fitting high fashion’s move towards a younger audience. Similarly, he released an orange and black print of interlocking B and T’s, presumably standing for Burberry and Burberry’s founder Thomas Burberry. In the weeks preceding his show, he wallpapered Burberry flagship stores in the print to signal the re-branding of the company.
One of Tisci’s last shows was Givenchy’s Spring/Summer 2017 show. His show featured a lot of warm-toned pieces with strikingly modern patterns and dramatically high and low necklines. Tisci demonstrated why he is known for body contouring by accentuating the neck chest, or both based on how high the neckline is. One of his signature low-cut black dresses had a skin-tone tank top lining to give a sportier look. In addition, there was a large gemstone motif present throughout the show with dresses patterned after natural crystals and oversized crystal statement piece necklaces. While Tisci grew Givenchy’s clientele exponentially during his career there and his designs were a comfortable mix of wearable and non, his past work is drastically differently than the classic trench coat and plaid-scarfed Burberry.
Before Tisci arrived, Bailey’s Burberry stridently straddled the extremes of wearibility and experimental fashion, similar to others brands such as Marc Jacobs and Gucci. In his Fall/Winter 2018 show, he dedicated his farewell collection to the LGBT community by integrating rainbow prints with the Burberry plaid, most notably in the rainbow cape that Cara DeLevingne wore to close the show. The common trend throughout the rest of his show was plain pieces paired with drastically oversized coats, sweaters, blazers, or skirts. Since this was a fall/winter collection, layers were prominent with a lot of patterned coats and Victorian-esque capes and coats. Contrary to the historical influences, the show took place in a large dark warehouse with illuminating rainbow lights and electronic music. To fit the modern atmosphere of the setting, the collection featured an androgynous set of models that seemed to ignore the gender divide with short-haired female models and slender male models wearing traditionally feminine clothing, like skirts. Bailey’s final show left Burberry a more outlandish brand, expanding its boundaries beyond its often uptight and and conservative image.
After months of anticipation, Tisci presented his first Burberry collection during London Fashion Week. The first part of his show had a Heritage theme with extremely wearable classic Burberry pieces with a slight twist, including slim fit trench coats that compressed the waist. These created hourglass figures, similar to Tisci’s previous body-contouring designs. Contrary to the other shows this season however, most of Burberry’s pieces were very tight, the only exception being flared ankles on some of the pants.
Tisci also made a point to re-introduce the signature Burberry scarf by placing scarfs, that often clashed with outfits on unusual places on the body, like across the waist or under the arm, to accent them. Kendall Jenner wore one of the key pieces of this section of the show, which was an all-beige set with a matching trench coat, blouse, and pants embellished with gold hardware around the edges of the coat and lined with the Burberry plaid.
The next part of the show was Burberry’s approach to streetwear, which has been taking up more of the market share in high-end fashion after Gucci’s massive success. This portion displayed Tisci’s creative-side with more daring pieces that strayed from Burberry’s traditional style. Many pieces seemed to have very different influences like women’s sweaters with Victorian motifs and menswear with exotic prints and fairytale references. Tisci ended his show with what he does best: black dresses. Each dress was eloquent and simple, with a little edge, like a high slit or exposed midriff. By ending the show this way, Tisci exhibits that while he is an artist and will push the boundaries of fashion like he did at Givenchy, he also plans to stray away from Bailey’s Burberry by adhering to the roots of the British fashion house.