Wednesday, 26 September 2018

lost in a blur of beige: riccardo tisci's first burberry collection was a mess


Five months ago it was announced that Italian designer Riccardo Tisci had been tasked with breathing new life into Burberry. He bagged news stories with a few admirable gestures prior to his debut; announcing that Burberry would cease the unsustainable practice of burning unsold stock and that the brand would go completely fur-free. Just before the show, it was also revealed that the front row would be celebrity-free. However, having seen the collection, I can't help but imagine how a smattering of celebs would have actually made the event more interesting.


Ok, so we knew this wasn't going to be a great collection. The match is incongruous and we had a taste for its direction with the pretzel-esque new logo that undermines Burberry's classic elegance. Whilst I liked Tisci's work at Givenchy it never particularly stood out for me. With Burberry, he had an opportunity to do something really interesting. As a European designer coming to post-Brexit vote London, I was hoping Tisci would give us an insightful unpacking of English culture from a European perspective. What we got instead was an outdated blur of beige.


A look at Burberry's legacy and its place in British culture overall would have been far more enriching. I actually want Christopher Bailey back. I want Burberry to go down the path of British literary allusions like it did with Autumn 2016's Virginia Woolf inspired collection. Bailey's earlier work for the brand captured its quintessential elegance but went off-track with tokenistic trends. That rainbow fur cape modeled by Cara Delevigne is one of the ugliest pieces I've ever seen and as far as I know, hasn't revolutionised LGBT rights. At least Tisci's ethical and environmental endeavors have been more authentic in catalysing real change.


Tisci's clothes themselves were bland and overwhelmingly beige. We all love a Burberry trench, but after that beige is mind-numbingly boring. Talking of the trench, Tisci's interpretation involved adding a wide belt that looked like some kind of back brace, which is hardly going to attract the younger audience he was predicted to appeal to. What followed was a series of dull shirt and skirt combos that managed to look both incredibly conservative but also incredibly cheap. It was like a Primark copy of Miu Miu. The styling screamed rich kids who don't know how to dress. It felt old-fashioned and not in a cool, vintage way. This is not what young Londoners want to be seen wearing.


There were some redeeming features, however. I particularly liked the reimagining of the classic check print as stripes. It incorporated the brand's heritage, whilst also modernising it for a new, younger customer. It was preferable to the garish pretzel logo. Another strong point of the collection was the menswear, for it maintained the poise of Burberry at its best. The looks towards the end of the collection were the most interesting. Party girls head-to-toe in black is what we expected from Tisci. Some of these pieces are beautiful, but they are a huge departure from Burberry as we know it. Tisci would do well to focus on punky Burbs party girls and stay away from repetitive beige if he wants to make his mark.


Overall, I thought that Tisci's first Burberry collection was a mess. There was no cohesive theme or vibe so it didn't feel like one collection, but multiple. This is particularly problematic because it means that his interpretation of Burberry is still very vague. I was hoping that Tisci would inject the brand with new life, but it feels like it's just becoming more irrelevant. Perhaps all it will be good for now is trench coats and perfume.

(all images via vogue)

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