After transporting viewers to a picturesque forest for spring/summer 2021, Riccardo Tisci moved back indoors for his fall/winter 2021 Burberry showcase. Three years on from assuming the helm of the heritage British brand, the Italian designer chose to present his inaugural standalone menswear collection – streamed live to the world via Twitch, Instagram and its e-comm site – from its famed Regent Street store.
Here, Vogue brings you five things to know about Burberry’s fall/winter 2021 show.
It was an homage to British eccentricity
Since Riccardo Tisci’s appointment at Burberry, the Italian designer has been proudly besotted by British eclecticism and the liberated sensibilities of the London he moved to, and fell in love with, in the early 1990s. For his first standalone menswear collection for the house, he found formative inspiration in the twisted British codes that he found so refreshing on arrival in the capital. “The most iconic British gentlemen are the ones who have played with the strengths of masculinity and femininity with eccentricity,” he reflected. “Savile Row, mixed with a woman’s wardrobe. Think of David Bowie, Michael Clark, Leigh Bowery…” This collection proudly celebrated the subversion of those heroes through twisted tailoring and pleated shirt dresses; knit- and outerwear decorated with militaristic button placements; the punk application of a high-shine Union Jack to a black padded jacket; duffel coats made gloriously regal by the addition of bullion fringing. Rather than echoing their wardrobes, it was their unique mash-up of storied history with boundless modernity that appeared particularly resonant here.
And the crafts and outdoor movements of the early 20th Century
Tisci has always been determinedly engaged with youth culture, whether in London clubs or, this season, the world of young 20th-century radicals. Here, he eschewed the youth culture shorthand of a streetwear sensibility for clothing imbued with the aforementioned, elevated eclecticism, alongside signifiers of the British craft and outdoor movements at the turn of the 20th century. “I became obsessed with this young generation who went to live in the woods and create almost a republic of their own, inspired by nature and the animal worlds and making craft, sculpture, paintings.” So, the Burberry animal kingdom and natural motifs appeared throughout: mink and fox fur prints; deer motifs; shearling rucksacks. That generation “formed communities with a deep respect for nature and the outdoors and looked forward to a future full of possibility. I was not only drawn to the artistry of their craft, colours and shapes, but also to their strong sense of camaraderie and friendship,” he said. “At the moment, who doesn’t dream of being in nature?” It certainly sounds appealing – and looked it, too.
Tisci celebrated creative self-expression
“If you look to moments of darkness throughout history, in any country in the world, humanity has wanted to express itself after,” Tisci continued. “Covid has been a very tough time for the world, but at the same time, has generated new creativity and new modes of expression in fashion, music, cinematography, social justice, politics. Everything is changing.” This was a collection determinedly designed with post-pandemic liberation in mind – an homage to radical self-expression, with a wealth of artful sartorial tricks inbuilt into garments for those who would like a little guidance.
It was staged at the Regent Street flagship – which made historic sense
“I’ve wanted to do something here for a long time – because, when I joined Burberry, we refreshed the store,” noted Tisci. But beyond the rather conventional decision for a big-name brand to stage a runway in their flagship, the choice to centre the Regent Street store in this season’s narrative was charmingly cohesive. “In the 20th century, the store was a gallery where a new generation were invited to present their arts and crafts, which I found amazing,” he continued, alluding to the pioneering exhibitions staged at the New Gallery at 121 Regent Street. “So I thought, let’s do a ‘show’ here. It felt like squatters: the kids from the woods of last season who had run to London and taken over the space, and made it their home.”
Women were invited, too
Alongside the binary-blurring allusions of long tunics, there were women included on the runway, dressed in adaptations of menswear designs. “They are very strong women – and they’re not there just because I wanted to put girls in the show, but also because I’ve learned that, at Burberry, women buy womenswear, but they also buy the men’s,” explained Tisci. “I found that very interesting – and I am a veteran of that idea, of championing that fluidity.” Enter: Edie Campbell dressed in graphic shirting layered atop shimmering second-skin armour, or Janet Jumbo in a precisely-tailored shorts suit with golden booties. Something for everyone.
Originally published on Vogue.co.uk