Two years into Riccardo Tisci’s reinvention of Burberry, and the designer appears to have firmly found his footing. After he presented a collection for the house that married his Italianate sensuality with his personal understanding of British culture, we outline exactly what you need to know.
Titled Memories, it was his most personal collection yet
Riccardo Tisci might have been born in southern Italy, but his formative years were spent in London – the city he moved to at 17 after meeting Jake Chapman at an industrial club night in Milan. “He was so cool… and he painted this picture of London – told me it was the place to be, that there was freedom there,” he once recalled. “And the moment I put my feet here, I fell in love. I realised, this is my place.” This season, he mined his past to inform a collection that he suggested was his most personal yet. “It took a few seasons to find my way at Burberry – it’s quite a big company – but this is the collection I think represents me most, so I wanted to do something that related to my past,” he expressed backstage. So, we had Tisci’s experiences of ’90s London, explored by way of India…
Nineties London met Noughties Bhuna
Those London memories were clearly present: the grungy plaids and dirgy palette that coloured so much of this city in the ’90s; the wardrobes of football casuals translated into corsetry and oversized polos; the Burberry check so beloved in that era writ large throughout. But while his fashion education was in London, when Tisci decided to start his own label in 2004 (after the company he had been working for went bankrupt), he moved to India to start planning. “India is where it all started for two reasons,” he explained. “Firstly, in London, when I attended Central Saint Martins I lived in Bethnal Green – which is an Indian area. Then, the Riccardo Tisci collection was born in India, that’s where I went and started it – and I got obsessed with Bhuna and Osho and meditation and would go there every year.” So madras checks and drapery were interspersed throughout the show, with occasional flashes of lime green interrupting a muted palette. It made for a curiously harmonious alignment – clearly, mining Tisci’s past does wonders for his work.
Curious alignments were of paramount importance
“One thing that’s very interesting to me about Britishness is that it absorbs culture from other places and interprets it in its own way,” explained Tisci. “And only British people can put together two prints that don’t match and make them look so cool together. That, to me, is Britishness. It’s an attitude. Wellington boots with a couture dress – only British people can pull that off.” So, a giant knit was thrown over a shimmering skirt worn with box-fresh trainers; endless iterations of checks mismatched together; and sparkling trousers appeared beneath a crisp white shirt dress. Here, eclecticism was thoroughly celebrated – in part a tribute, he said, to a new generation who are disinterested in wearing a full look, but will mix street or sportswear in with formal pieces. The occasional appearance of retro-futuristic sunglasses topped it all off with aplomb.
Arca soundtracked the show
The show was staged in the Olympia, one of London’s most beloved music venues – and accordingly Tisci enlisted acclaimed Venezuelan artist Arca to curate the soundscape for the show, performed live at two polished grand pianos by Katia and Marielle Labèqeue. Sitting at the top tier of a mirror-panelled runway, they reworked the likes of Philip Glass and Franz Schubert in a performance that was at once classically alluring and entirely modern. A good parallel for the rest of the show, then.
The runway and front row were staggeringly impressive
Tisci has long excelled in casting his runways – counting the likes of Irina Shayk and Mariacarla Boscono among his closest friends – and this time was no exception. Alongside Irina and Mariacarla appeared the Hadids; Kendall; Fran Summers; Joan Smalls; Ugbad… The list of superstars present was endless (and, with over 100 looks, there was plenty for them to wear). But the front row was equally glittering; while Tisci didn’t invite celebrities to his debut outings, preferring for press to focus on his clothes rather than the guest list, last season he began to reintroduce VIPs that reflected his vision to his front row. From FKA Twigs and ASAP Nast to AJ Tracey and Burna Boy, there were plenty of new-gen idols to be found here – alongside creatives including Tiffany Calver, Akinola Davies and Jordan Vickors. But equally, the people who have influenced Tisci throughout his career were front and centre: Bobby Gillespie, Peter Saville, Serena Rees, Kristen McMenamy. It was a line-up that reflected the breadth of his Burberry – and, dressed in his designs, they proved he’s serving multiple generations well.
Originally published on Vogue.co.uk