Original Riccardo Tisci fans, rejoice! Since the designer arrived at Burberry, devotees have been calling for more of the genetics immortalized by his 10-year Givenchy tenure: that red-blooded, razor-edge, exotic elegance suspended between danger and desire.
This season, they got just that. Filmed in an urban desert landscape by the Millennium Mills in East London’s Royal Victoria Docks, Tisci’s men’s collection distilled the aesthetic so distinct to his career into his most personal Burberry show to date. There were trench and carcoat references aplenty, but in its pure expression, this was Burberry learning Tisci’s language and not the other way around.
˝I wanted the collection to capture that free spirit of youth and its honest and daring attitude, that sense of experimentation and fluidity. There is a strong feeling of unity but also of letting go – encouraging and uplifting each other to express our individuality freely. It’s a very raw energy that’s infectious, exciting and full of life. Like an awakening.˝Riccardo Tisci
He hacked the sleeves off outerwear and re-sculpted it into warrior form, refined the raglan lines of sportswear, and managed to make a halter-neck silhouette look hunky. Combatant chest plates continued those conversations, some reduced to just a ghostly outline on a t-shirt, while the exaggerated straps of workwear conjured visions of skeletons and rib cages, bringing back those delectable Memento Mori or Día de Muertos images Tisci’s work so often evoked in the past. Lifting each color of the Nova check, he covered the whole thing in a thick, luxe, dusty blanket of beige, white, red, and black, with sky blue nods to “the only thing we’ve been able to watch” while trapped lockdown.
His interpretation of Burberry’s codes—deconstructed but refined—felt so authentic to his ethos, you wondered why he hadn’t taken this route sooner. On a video call from his Mayfair apartment, Tisci reflected on his three-year residency. “It takes time for a designer to find the right fit when you’re working in a company. For people outside, it seems like you just go there and…” he paused. “It’s an interesting process. The bigger the team, the more interesting and tough and difficult it is. So, it’s good that we’ve arrived here. After three years, the identity is getting clear.” To use an obnoxious but in this case warranted expression: You do you.
Filmed outdoors, models walk through swathes of sand, contrasted against the minimalist structure of the Millennium Mills in Royal Victoria Docks, London. Anthemic music by British-formed group, Shpongle, plays throughout the space. A collective experience of creativity.
Tischi’s melds the feelings of freedom and togetherness, creating a moment of youthful positivity, centred on the spiritual and the energy of music and movement.
“You have to understand the company heritage, and it’s such a big company, in such a strong country. Slowly, you see the things you’re putting out. That’s your process,” Tisci explained. Looking back at recent collections, you can see the step-by-step path it took to find this voice, to let his own trademark shine at a fashion house a hundred years his senior.
But the pandemic changed Tisci’s outlook: “I feel at home, even if I’ve been in lockdown. The world is going to restart, and for me, this was fresh. It’s what we want today: expression, freedom, physical freedom; to be ourselves. It’s punk in a positive way: breaking the boundaries.”
Watching the world come back to life—“and the young generation pulling crazy looks again!”—Tisci was reminded of his early twenties when he escaped to India and had his eyes opened to another reality. “I remembered my first rave in India, with Shpongle, one of the best DJs in trance music,” he said, referring to the group that also scored the show, “partying in these open spaces, with all this nature, with all these young generations from around the world, being myself and expressing myself. I come from a poor family, but raves were somewhere I could express myself and be on the same level as everybody else.”
Imbuing his collection with those memories of rave, it was as if that scene was once again giving Tisci a place to freely express himself.
Styling: Ib Kamara
Make-up: Isamaya Ffrench
Choreography: Josh Johnson and Tosh Basco
Directors: Partel Oliva