Since joining Burberry earlier this year, Riccardo Tisci has slowly but surely been adding his own touch to the British heritage label. In August, the designer introduced the first major shift in brand visuals: a new logo created in collaboration with British graphic designer and art director Peter Saville. Then, earlier this month, he announced that Burberry would no longer burn $36 million worth of excess clothing and cosmetics — which, what?! Finally, though, came the moment the industry was waiting for: the Emperor’s New Clothes.

On Monday, Tisci presented his first offering for the label — a collection that felt more old school Burberry with classic trenches, ladylike pencil skirts, and pussy-bow blouses. It was demure and frankly a little stuffy, a stark departure from the plastic raincoats and oversized statement earrings and rainbow capes that came just a season or so ago. “That’s what fashion should be” Tisci said backstage, according to The Cut. “You can dress the mother, dress the daughter. We have so many stores. Why give just one identity?”

But who exactly then is the woman Tisci is trying to dress? One guess is whomever will buy the product. The collection veered so commercial it’s hard not to wonder if that’s the sort of design direction he received from the powers that be. Still, it’s hard to judge the complete vision of a creative director after just one season, and while we may not be totally sold on Tisci for Burberry just yet, we are optimistic he’ll find his footing. The foundation for a well-rounded direction is there — suiting, separates, sportswear — all it needs is a little finessing.


Out of the darkness

Riccardo Tisci has long been renowned for his vision of dark romanticism; for the sexed-up gothic aesthetic that has underscored everything from his high-glam eveningwear to his hi-tech athleisure. Upon entering today’s show space – a dimly-lit, club-like set-up in Vauxhall (surely the heart of dimly-lit club-like set-ups) – it felt like he might be approaching familiar territory and that we were in for fifty shades of black. But then, as the show started, the room was transformed: the ceiling covers peeled back to reveal the sky above and the room was flooded with cool British sunshine. Thank god for the weather this week, because it acted as a pretty direct metaphor for the collection that followed. Out of the darkness, and into…



Fifty shades of beige

If the idea of a collection that revolves around a muted palette sounds dreary, rest assured this was not: the opening component to the show – entitled “refined” – was a fabulously chic vision of modern daywear, and examined the way that the bourgeois Burberry woman wants to dress today. As it stands, Burberry operates as historic shorthand for composed Britishness – that trench coat is an iconic symbol of classic refinement – and Tisci took that sentiment and elevated it anew. Perfect pencil skirts had an exacting sensuality; croc stamped coats given a glossy sheen; tailoring was cut precise but still covetably louche. Right now, there are plenty of designers besotted with beige – the Philo-shaped hole in fashion is yet to be filled and, while her woman seeks pastures new, elevated minimalism is a lucrative field – but Riccardo’s felt freshly appealing. All too often, chic is misinterpreted as sexless. This was far more refined than that.

Burberry Heritage

With ladylike silk blouses bearing classic house prints paired with pencil skirts, trench coats bearing the iconic check, and tailored jackets and trousers in multiple shades of beige. The new monogram, as designed by Peter Saville, also made an appearance: as worn by Stella Tennant in jacket form, paired with a vinyl skirt with a clashing checked bag. After the opening women’s looks came the men, who took to the runway in dark tailoring, complete with Burberry umbrellas harnessed to their backs with bike chains.

There’s something for everyone

Next up in the collection: “relaxed.” Fluid lace slip dresses; masculine overshirts; printed T-shirts and slouching knits: if the former category spoke to the working woman, this was directed at her daughter. It needs to be mentioned that Tisci’s debut comprised a staggering number of looks and, within that, there was something for everyone: he was clearly making a play for multiple demographics, which is a smart move for such a behemoth commercial brand. In his former role at Givenchy, Tisci mastered both the high-octane art of red carpet elegance as well as capturing the streetwear audience – and here he was showing that his Burberry is both, that he’s designing for everyone. “Why just have one entity when you can propose something for every age, every culture, for different lifestyles?” he asked backstage. “In the beginning, I thought, I should do one thing… but no, I want to be free.”


Tisci explained that he was inspired by British heritage: by its well-defined style tribes, by “the Queen and punk, the skinheads, the Victorians, the freaks.” So while the gentrified set were well served by Stella Tennant in a car coat and a pussybow blouse, the more rebellious sort were offered studded denim; zip-up leather minis; skinhead checks; a padded corset layered over workwear shirting. One of Tisci’s first announcements as creative director of the brand was that he would be collaborating with Vivienne Westwood to rework styles from her archive for a December drop (besides a limited release available for 24 hours following the show, his collection won’t be in store until next season). “Vivienne Westwood was one of the first designers who made me dream to become a designer myself,” he said at the time. “She is a rebel, a punk and unrivalled in her unique representation of British style, which has inspired so many of us.” That inspiration was appreciably visible.



Both the formal sort, which revolves around a new tailoring block he has labelled the “English fit”, and the streetwear-friendly. Expectedly, the latter offered some of the highlights: the techy outerwear, the polo ponchos, the utility bumbags and Bambi-lined parkas. Since Riccardo’s reign, it’s become normal to see that sort of clothing on the runway but he was reminding us that, while he can show sophistication, he can still knock it out the park when it comes to modern ease. While there were no celebrities at the show – Tisci has a social circle that extends from Madonna to Kanye West, but A-Listers were notably absent here in what is surely his version of a palate cleanser – you can expect to see plenty of these pieces worn by them on your Instagram feed any day now. That section was as zeitgeisty as it gets, in the best possible way.


No Celebrities In The Front Row

Tisci counts Kanye West, Kim Kardashian-West, Madonna, Nicki Minaj, and many more big names as close, personal friends. His Givenchy shows often had a celebrity-packed front row, so we were surprised to see the audience filled with mostly editors and buyers with little to no fanfare.



Gang of major models

Tisci brought back some of the supers for the show, including Brits like Lily Donaldson, Stella Tennant, and Jourdan Dunn, as well as some of his favourite girls including Mariacarla Boscono, Natalia Vodianova and Irina Shayk. Naturally, they were joined by a host of the faces defining fashion today: including Anok Yai, Kendall Jenner, and Fran Summers.

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After that came a series of punkier women’s looks, with vinyl overcoats, leather jackets featuring bondage-style straps, and hoodies and mini dresses bearing skewed takes on the Burberry logo featuring heavily. Then, the male models reappeared wearing streetwear-inspired boxy shirts worn over long-sleeved t-shirts, oversized anorak jackets, and loose, chap-detail trousers. The show was rounded off with darkly romantic evening looks with black tux-style tailoring for the boys, and slinky, beaded dresses for the girls. There was a lot to take in – this was basically five collections in one.



Accessories included heavy-duty chain belts and harnesses, and envelope-style bumbags, while a number of models wore faux passports on chains around their neck. A statement on Brexit for the newly-relocated London-based Italian? Potentially.