With a debut collection that’s just hitting the shop floor, Riccardo Tisci is still under the microscope at Burberry, and he’s had to work rapidly — and publicly. There are shareholders to please and stores to fill, 442 worldwide, plus franchises and wholesale outlets, and a drumbeat of monthly T-shirt, hoodie and accessories drops sold via Instagram. The company, which has a market capitalization of 8 billion pounds on the London Stock Exchange, is also in transition mode under new chief executive officer Marco Gobbetti, with big plans for growth.
Tisci took a step forward for fall, tightening up the show, clarifying his vision and making a return to that classy streetwear for which he’s known. His lineup featured tailored coats with puffers tacked to the back or with big faux furry hoods bursting from the collars. He tore apart rugby shirts and stitched them into a dress, punk-ed up leather baseball jackets with little phrases like “Burberry isn’t good for you” down the woolen sleeve, and gave a shearling a tough edge with slicks of black patent leather.
The designer has never made a secret of his intentions: He wants to dress everybody — mothers and daughters, fathers and sons — and one of the company’s flagship strategies has been to sell head-to-toe dressing to the consumer. Tisci said Sunday that Burberry is about “including, not excluding.” His fashion show took place at Tate Modern in two very different rooms, one spare and concrete, with kids climbing around scaffolding and chain-link fence lining the walls. The other was done in discreet, sweet-smelling wood, and with seating more like a classy concert hall. Two soundtracks, spanning a variety of decades and moods, came courtesy of M.I.A.
Tisci said he’s always conscious that he’s talking to “two different types of public, price-wise as well as need-wise. A mature person has a different need than someone from a young generation.” That explains why the other half of the collection was aimed at the international sophisticate, with lots of tailoring for men and women, including a snappy wool peacoat skirt suit and a sculptural pea green coat with a Sixties feel. There were trenchcoats with branded blankets and scarves draped across the back and skirts galore in leather, or with silk pleats and sequins.
Tisci’s got a great big balancing act on his hands, with stores around the world still to be refurbished and a new exclusive with Barneys New York, not to mention those streetwise drops that are keeping the kids — many in Asia — happy on the 17th of every month. “For me, Burberry is a lifestyle, it’s not a fashion label and it represents a country,” said Tisci.
Is he there yet? No — but he’s on his way.