Words by Michael McAtomney

In a nod to both the old and the new, Riccardo Tisci yesterday presented his debut collection for Burberry as part of London Fashion Week. Paying homage to the 162-year-old Burberry name, Tisci presented an enormous 134 look collection that catered to both the brand traditionalists and to the new and prospective consumers alike.

With the catwalk snaking through the venue in between partitions of dark timber, glass and steel, the cocooning atmosphere in the venue was amplified by the low light and dark instrumental soundtrack produced by Massive Attack’s Robert Del Naja. The recently appointed Burberry Chief Creative Officer is known for his modern approach to design and celebrity endorsements — though the later was nowhere to be seen in the crowd of his Burberry debut, with the crowd consisting predominantly of family, friends, buyers, and editors.

 

Kicking it off with a nod to the old, the traditional beige Burberry trench coat styled with a thick elasticated leather belt cinched at the waist was followed up by the use of the trademark Burberry check. Knee length flowing pleated skirts gave the collection an air of feminine romance alongside leather skirts with box pleats and a recurring trick of the eye with double waistbands on both trousers and skirts.

The smooth flow of the menswear started with subtle pinstripes and striking Hedi Slimane-esque silhouettes a-top monochrome shirt and tie combinations, cropped sweaters with squarely cropped necklines layered over suits. It was as though Tisci was playing monochrome color blocking with only the use of textures. This show of British sophistication and elegance that is so easily associated with the Burberry name was quickly turned on its head, as the emergence of what Tisci himself referred to as the “young parts” came flowing onto the catwalk mid-show.

 

With Tisci’s reputation having grown enormously throughout his time at the luxury French fashion house, Givenchy, the crowd at his debut and the fashion world as a whole was eagerly awaiting to see what of his reputation had followed him to the Burberry brand. Tisci didn’t disappoint. “I’m trying to build, over time, a wardrobe for a mother and a daughter and a father and a son. We have so many stores. Why just offer one identity when you can really design for every age, for every culture and every different lifestyle?” These were the words from Tisci’s mouth following his debut presentation for Burberry.

The streetwear influences were evident in the second half of the show, with chunky sneakers going hand in hand with layered clashing prints and bum bags in the menswear, with sophisticated cut out panel work on short skirts in the womenswear. Minimalist ponchos styled with space-age visors were a confronting look in comparison to years of Burberry past, though they signaled a definitive changing of the guard from a Burberry that has for so long been under the creative guise of Christopher Bailey.

Tisci certainly challenged the norm of what we have come to know of Burberry as a brand, perhaps he pushed the needle a little too far, though his creative vision likely ruffled just the right amount of feathers.