Burberry’s runway has been pulsating with feminine energy, from the soft-edged, gender-fluid men’s collection that Riccardo Tisci showed during London Fashion Week in February, to this latest women’s collection, a flurry of gold paillettes and fluttering fabrics, that debuted Wednesday via a filmed runway presentation.
Tisci’s messaging was clear: Before the show, he screened a short documentary by filmmaker Marc Isaacs highlighting a variety of women talking about power, femininity and their hopes for the future.
A few minutes later, Tisci’s new pal, the British musician Blane Muise, known as Shygirl, opened the presentation in a blaze of light as she recited an ode to nature, creation and eternity. In the liner notes, Tisci paid homage to his mother as an “incredible force of nature” who raised him and his eight sisters alone “with unfaltering purpose and pride.”
It’s no surprise that Tisci wanted this show to be “a big celebration of women” in all their sensuality and power. He said the Burberry vibe had traditionally been a masculine one embodied by the trench, the check, the tailored coat and cashmere scarf.
Fall 2021 was also a turning point for Tisci: It was his first stand-alone women’s show, and there wasn’t a stitch of streetwear, a puffer or a sneaker in sight.
Instead, there was lots of gold, shine and chunky faux fur, including coats with exaggerated flaps at the front or floppy fox tails at the hem. Wispy strips of fabric, inspired by flags and bunting, floated from waists, hems, collars and sleeves, while jackets with little wing panels at the back looked as if they were about to take flight.
The silhouettes were languid and cool — a slouchy gold trench here, a floppy-sleeved dress there, and dramatic capes with handkerchief hems.
Tisci described it as “childlike, very playful and very free,” as well as easy to wear and to layer. Aviator-style caps came with long flaps at the side, while snugly fitting gold ones resembled medieval chain mail. Tall, stretchy leather boots were glam.
In contrast to the punk, street-y toughness and androgyny of past seasons, this collection was gentle, with Tisci going for “nice, easy dresses for women to move in.” Indeed, they channeled the sort of freedom embodied by Twenties British fashion, when women tossed their corsets aside, slipped on looser styles, and cozied up to layers of fur.
Although the jury is still deliberating whether off-calendar, off-season fashion shows will have a future after lockdown lifts, the extra months have served Tisci well, and the designer said he loved having more time to spend with his team.
“The world needed to stop, and we took the opportunity to redefine the identity of Burberry. I think lockdown pushed everybody” to explore new horizons, said Tisci, recalling the words of his late friend Azzedine Alaïa, who would often tell him not to run so fast, and to show when he was ready.
“I’m not the only one who feels this way,” Tisci said.
He believes there’s no turning back: There’s a playful — and powerful — woman taking charge of Burberry’s runway now, and she doesn’t need to dress like the boys.