LONDON — Riccardo Tisci is answering a cry from the great outdoors with plans to stage a Burberry presentation under British skies in September. Everyone’s invited to the spring 2021 outdoor show, although they’ll have to view it digitally.
Burberry is the first big brand after Fendi to set a date for the September fashion weeks, which will no doubt be an unconventional, hybrid physical/digital affair, given fewer flights and quarantines; masks and social distancing measures, and strict attention to crowd control. Fendi said last week it plans to show a coed spring collection at its Roman headquarters on Sept. 22.
The Burberry show will take place on Sept. 17 — Tisci’s lucky number — and on the eve of London Fashion Week, which runs from Sept. 18 to 22. Burberry’s chief creative officer said he wanted to channel the “purity and simplicity of the outdoors” and redefine the fashion landscape through new forms of expression.
“As humans, we have always had a deep affinity to nature. Especially recently, we have all yearned to reconnect again, and for this show, I wanted to celebrate these feelings by bringing our community together in a creative experience that takes place within the beautiful, natural landscape of Britain,” Tisci said.
Tisci’s embrace of nature is nothing new. Bambi — a Tisci signature — featured big in his first collection for the brand, while hand-sketched, painted and collaged animal prints have pranced and swung their way across jackets, bags and silk scarves.
The Corner Shop at the reopened Selfridges is dressed in a Burberry animal kingdom theme, including Tisci’s reinterpretation of the unicorn that Thomas Burberry chose for his family crest.
In February, Burberry staged its second carbon-neutral show under the soaring Victorian arches of Olympia London. At the time Burberry said it planned to reforest areas of Australia destroyed by the bush fires, among other environmental moves.
Here, Tisci talks exclusively to WWD about the September show, the reasoning behind it and spending his lockdown time surrounded by family.
WWD: How will the September show unfold?
Riccardo Tisci: It will be a physical presentation that is open for all to experience digitally. I felt that through this concept, we could open new spaces to our community around the world and give everyone the opportunity to experience it together.
Other than the models and our team, there will not be anybody physically at the location. As most people are unable to travel, it was important for me to create a space where anybody would be able to engage with, and immerse themselves in the show experience. I am so excited for everybody to be involved.
WWD: Can you talk a little more about the show concept, and what sort of mood you want to conjure?
R.T.: Particularly recently, I have fantasized about escapism and the ability to express myself creatively. I felt a call back to the purity and simplicity of being at one with nature. I wanted to celebrate these feelings by bringing our community together in a creative experience that takes place within the beautiful, natural landscape of Britain. Our founder, Thomas Burberry, also had a close affinity with nature and the elements, so there was definitely this sense of us coming back to our heritage, back to our roots.
WWD: Can anything replace a physical fashion show? How important is the show moment in your creative process, and for conveying your message each season?
R.T.: I do not believe that fashion weeks are to be stopped, they just need to be reimagined for the world we live in now. You know, there is nothing like the experience of being at a fashion show — the energy in the room, the anticipation, excitement — it is something beautiful that I would not want to see lost.
But we must recognize that the world is changing, and we must adapt and redefine our landscape through new forms of expression. Ultimately, to me, it will always be important to keep a physicality to fashion, to be able to see and understand the texture and movements of clothes, but in new ways.
I also feel that fashion has lost its sense of emotion in recent years. When I began my career, there was a real, emotional energy to the industry — designers like [Martin] Margiela, Ann Demeulemeester and [Alexander] McQueen were giving out this raw emotion in their designs. Don’t get me wrong, creativity has definitely been there, but that sense of real identity has been a little bit missing. I think pulling collections back to their true essence will bring back a purity to fashion.
WWD: What about your choice to engage the public? Why is it important that they have access to this show?
R.T.: Recently, it has been important, now more than ever, to connect, collaborate and create — it made total sense to me to present a show experience, which meant that anyone could engage and feel involved. This democratization of creativity and this spirit of community is something that has always been close to my heart personally.
WWD: What are some of your favorite natural places, or outdoor experiences?
R.T.: I have always felt a very deep, romantic connection to nature. Coming from a small town in Italy, I used to dream of the world and being able to experience it. I have since been lucky enough to travel and see the beauty of this world, visiting so many truly spectacular places on this planet.
I am all about experiences, and being outside is absolutely a huge thing that forms the inspiration for my creativity. For this show, it felt important to celebrate the British outdoors. It has such incredible, natural landscapes and has also held such an important part in the heritage of the company. I have loved being able to explore this.
WWD: Was nature something you craved once out of confinement? Where and how did you spend the lockdown?
R.T.: Absolutely. I was lucky enough to spend lockdown with my mother and one of my sisters at our family home in Como in Italy. Since I left home at 17, this was the longest I have spent more than 15 days at home with my mother — can you believe it? It was truly a beautiful time to reconnect. Getting away from the city, from our usual pace of life, I definitely found this time super healing and inspiring.
Not many people may know this about me but I need silence. People think I am very loud, but actually silence is what I need. Silence for me is very creative. So I have really valued these months to reflect, take time and a pause to then move forwards again.
Now that lockdown is easing and we can go outside more, I feel like I am so much more aware of what is around me. You can notice and appreciate simple elements of the outdoors. I have been experiencing this now back in London. When I am out on my runs I am now noticing all these beautiful gardens and parks. It has definitely made me very excited for the show.