Riccardo Tisci is flexing his creative brawn at Burberry, ripping apart and rebuilding the trench, and the check, and putting a personal stamp on it all, with abstract animal prints shaped like paper cutouts and hats with pricked up feline ears. He called the collection “Animal Instinct.”
It has been a disruptive, emotionally charged year of change for Tisci, but he’s determined to power through it: His mother Elmerinda died, and he dedicated the show both to her and to “a journey full of new possibilities.”
He’s also saying arrivederci to Burberry’s chief executive officer Marco Gobbetti, a longtime colleague and trusted adviser both at Burberry and when the two were at Givenchy in the mid-Aughts. Gobbetti is taking up the CEO post at Salvatore Ferragamo and, contrary to what some might think, Tisci is not following him out the door.
“I’m very respectful of Marco’s decision to go back to Italy, back to his roots and to look after his family,” Tisci said in an interview. “But I’m staying at Burberry — of course I am. I am young, I still have a lot to do. I’m not leaving.”
He admitted that “it hasn’t been an easy time,” with the pandemic and the lockdowns, “but things are changing quickly, and I’m very happy here, with the way the collections and the shows are going.”
Tisci presented his collection digitally once again — and off-calendar — between the end of Milan and the start of Paris. He filmed a runway show staged in an undisclosed location. But that’s it for the COVID-19-era compromises, and the plan is to return to live events soon.
It would have been fun to have seen the spring collection in person what with all the fringes, streaming fabric, billowing capes and flashes of flesh. Indeed, Tisci’s trenches were unlike anything Burberry has seen — and they’re not all fit for London’s damp and drizzle.
The trenches came whole and demure with high clerical collars; as saucy apron-style tops with chunky chain details; as sky-high minis with slashed collars, or with peek-a-boo backs exposing models’ bodysuit-clad bottoms. Others came with leather panels, cutout shoulders or fluttering black capes, like Batgirl.
This collection marked the return of va-va-voom Tisci. “It’s sexy with elegance — not vulgar — and it was all very instinctive and honest,” the designer said. “I have the security now to deconstruct — and reconstruct.”
Those trenches weren’t the only bits of Burberry he pulled apart.
Tisci took the stripes from the check pattern — beige, black, white and red — broke them apart, added pink and yellow, and shaped them into graphic animal spot placement prints. They popped on fringed minis, liquid gowns and sweet shirtdresses with streamers.
When he wasn’t tearing down the classics, he was distilling them to the essence: Cutout jumpsuits and trousers fit like a second skin, and were better suited to the gym than to prowling around town.