LONDON — Beige may not be a shade that gets hearts thumping, but Riccardo Tisci has embraced it with gusto, using it as inspiration for his first ad campaign for Burberry, a multigenerational, multicultural collaboration.
The campaign, which broke Thursday on the brand’s social media outlets, channels the same quiet confidence and refinement of Tisci’s spring collection for the British label. Photographed in places including London and Spain, images range from the cinematic to the painterly, with touches of chiaroscuro and dramatic backdrops.
They were taken by young and established photographers alike, including Nick Knight, Danko Steiner, Hugo Comte, Colin Dodgson, Peter Langer and Letty Schmiterlow, all of whom were working with Burberry for the first time.
“Beige is the color that belongs to the house — we own it — and I wanted each photographer to have a different way of interpreting it,” said Tisci in an exclusive interview. “Some did it with the lighting. Nick was all about beige clothes, with all the girls in the beige suits, plus the house was very beige, brown, natural — and very chic.”
Knight shot his film and photos in a private home outside Barcelona that belongs to an artist. Tisci described it as “a little palace. It is very futuristic.”
The Italian designer said he chose the place because he wanted the campaign to have international flair. “I wanted to be much more global, to do a British woman, a woman with British style — but traveling abroad — not always in London. So we cast a lot of houses around Europe.”
Tisci was also looking to capture Burberry’s democratic flair, which shone through in his choice of a diverse set of photographers and models.
“The thing that excites me the most about Burberry is how inclusive it is — it appeals to everyone no matter their age, their social standing, their race, their gender,” said Tisci. “I knew I wanted to work with a collection of collaborators to help interpret the breadth of what this incredible heritage house represents to so many different people, from the Millennial to the mature, to the British and to the international.”
He added that sometimes, “when you have one photographer it is great, but I wanted to give opportunities to more, to someone like Nick Knight, who is the king of photography, especially in Britain. Then you have the younger generation. I wanted to give opportunities to people to really go on the journey with me. They all have a very different energy, experience and point of view of the world. I sat down and briefed them, and we all kind of worked together.”
Tisci took the same approach when it came to model-casting, tapping familiar faces such as Natalia Vodianova and Stella Tennant; Victoria’s Secret superstar Irina Shayk, and some newer names, too, including Sora Choi and Rianne van Rompaey.
Tisci said the spirit of the campaign was as much in keeping with his own values and aesthetic as Burberry’s.
“I always try to include [a variety of] people because I come from a very simple family so I understand what it means to be left out. For me, it is very important to include everybody. It was very important to have all these nationalities, all the different ages, women and men, this represents what Burberry is today,” he said.
Knight’s images feature models in pleated midi skirts or tailoring, posing in the luxurious house that’s filled with art and modernist furniture — a reflection of Burberry’s mission to compete in the upper end of the luxury arena.
Steiner’s images highlight some of the younger, more directional pieces in the collection against a bright red backdrop, while the TB logo bag appears throughout the campaign in all its variations.
Vodianova said during the shoot, “fireworks” were exploding on set with stylist Joe McKenna and Knight working together for the first time. Knight said he and Tisci looked at paintings, cinema, architectural and photography references to create a new visual language for Burberry.
“Riccardo and I worked together to choose the location and decor for the set, directing the models and pushing the film to be a very strong fashion film that complements and expands on the world we created with the stills,” the photographer said.
Tisci added that his aim was to create images confident enough to stand on their own. There is more to come: New photos will be continuously released through April. “When people see it all together it will be even more powerful,” said Tisci. “It is really telling one story, but through different eyes.”
Asked about the importance of a campaign in the context of the overall job, Tisci said they define a designer’s own vision for the brand. “Today we live in a society where we’re bombarded every day by imagery, so I think it is important to make something strong, to make people dream, to draw them into your dream and your journey. I feel much more relaxed now that it is out. The work is done.”