If Riccardo Tisci’s first year at Burberry honed in on “understanding and refining” the house codes, his second delved significantly further to centuries past. For his third collection — Spring/Summer ’20 — Tisci decided to retrace the founding father’s Victorian genesis.
Held in the hangar-like Troubadour Theatre in White City, the set was initially masked by a mirrored box, which rose up right before the show began, revealing a rectangular runway crowded with the vast construction of a Victorian-inflected sound system. The first of its electronic beats were sounded and in came a troupe of sleek women, including newly blonde Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid, in superbly well-tailored outfits. A dramatic clashing of textures soon ensued in the melding of crystal-mesh, ostrich feathers and lace. Waists were nipped in, both for the ladies and gents — a definitive silhouette of the 19th century.
Thomas Burberry was, as Tisci described, “a daring innovator but also a romantic and a dreamer.” The young self-made pioneer began his company in the middle of the 19th century, the Victorian peak of a British epoch that heralded an industrial revolution, an inching towards the impending promises of modernity. This was, Tisci announced, the collection’s main inspiration.
Aptly titled “Evolution”, Tisci paraded his 100-look manifesto that interpreted the house’s birth clime into a motley of steampunk-laced staples. In a muted palette of greys and beiges, the exaggerated detailing of the classical past was toughened up by Tisci’s signature streetwear tendencies.
For the women, poufed leg o’ mutton sleeves were paired with tailoring, labyrinth lacework offset the slouch of jersey, and corsetry-inspired structures sculpted fluid fabrications. The house’s iconic trench coat underwent a series of transformations. A runway-sweeping edition, as worn by Freja Beha Erichsen, made a dramatic sight to behold. Other versions included reconstructions that involved silk panels to crystal-ring piercings.
“The trench and the check are going to be forever-icons of the house, but society changed,” reasoned Tisci of his insouciant renderings. “The world is changing and now people want to wear different things — and it doesn’t matter which country it comes from. So the globalization of style is a different approach for me today.”
For the gents, suits and trench coats, too, came pronounced in a slim, figure-outlining drape. Parkas, hoodies and rugby shirts arrived stood out with ribbed-knit panels. Bold expressiveness was introduced in the ample peppering of crystals, of which climaxed in an enshrouding mask. In the vein of the likes of Virgil Abloh at Louis Vuitton and Kim Jones at Dior Men, Tisci riotously posits menswear at its ornamental finest.
Then again, as his show notes solemnly declared, “It’s the evolution of our Burberry kingdom.”
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