Riccardo Tisci

LONDON — Tasked with leading Burberry’s shift upscale, and deeper into fashion, Riccardo Tisci set out to “literally turn the page, but keeping that heritage.” While the Italian-born designer kept a tight lid on his debut collection before the show, afterward he spoke about his approach, ambitions for the brand, rapport with chief executive Marco Gobbetti, and falling in love with trench coats.

How he approached the collection: “We went to archives in London…the heritage is so strong. Burberry represents a very big part of the British style. So it is like a patchwork, a mix of things that I remember when I used to live here, and over these past five months, things that for me that are so strong and powerful of what is the lifestyle of a British woman and man.

This young generation of boys and girls are different. They don’t like rock anymore. The new thing here is rap, which is not British. The way they approach fashion is very interesting: Using the clothes of the parents, mixing the oversize with all the vintage — like the punks — so, a moment of revolution. Then, the tailoring, which is really important for this country and Burberry didn’t really do it. And then I brought evening and sensuality, which is part of my style.”

On his time as a teenager in London, and a student at Central Saint Martins: “I was 17 when I arrived here and started here working and discovered myself. I am very curious and I was obsessed with all these things that England has. You have the Queen and the punk, the skinhead, the Victorian — all very strongly opinionated people.

When I came here, I was very shy and I was very scared of life and I wanted to express myself but I couldn’t. I didn’t know I was going to become a designer. I didn’t know I was going to go to Saint Martins. England gave me the punch. In England I feel at home. This is why I have this obsession with British style.”

On the streetwear craze: “I was one of the first ones to believe in it, and I do believe still. I love streetwear but at the same time we forget about design and sophistication. So for me, it was really important — the fabrics, the buttons, the cut…I like merchandising a collection. I love making dreams, but I like reality as well; I am very realistic.”

On life at Burberry: “As a company, we are very family. [Marco Gobbetti] is the person who discovered me, so he’s kind of like my father and I feel at home. I brought two or three people from my team. But the team that is here is very devoted to the house because Burberry in a way is the flag of England.

Marco’s office is next to mine. I love him. There’s a very good collaboration. He taught me a lot of the business when I was young, and continues to do so to this day. He is always respectful, which is very rare to find in this business between a designer and a businessman.”

On what Burberry represents: “For me, it represents everybody. Yes, there is the trench, there is the car coat, but it’s only one element. When you really go into the archives there are so many things…It has always been very out there. It’s classic, but at the same time it is very strong.

I used to not be a very ‘trench’ person. I have never done trench coats and now I am obsessed. When you discover all the changes and development of trench in history, you are like, ‘Wow, it started as something for a man to represent his country.’ Then what it became today: Who doesn’t have a trench in their wardrobe?”

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