Instinct. Burberry SS22

Riccardo Tisci appeared on the cover of last week’s edition of the magazine DSection embracing a deer and sporting droopy Bambi ears like those worn by models on his digital Burberry runway yesterday. He dedicated the collection to his beloved mother, who passed away in late August at the age of 93. “We are born from animals. We have an animal instinct that’s highly strung when we are feeling happiness or depression or sadness,” Tisci said on a video call from Milan. He wanted to give his models the same emotional expression that animals convey through their ears. “Instinct” is the magic word for Tisci at this stage in his Burberry tenure. In his last men’s collection he broke the confinements he had, to some degree, experienced, working within the brand’s highly defined heritage, and did what he does best: Riccardo Tisci. In his spring-summer 2022, things felt a bit mild. The film saw models proceeding through rooms that represented Tisci’s natural elements at Burberry: speakers for music, wind for outdoors, rave for youth, and glitter for the zhuzh. A few looks into the transfigured trench coats that opened the show – long at the front, cropped at the back – the camera panned around a model to reveal her naked derriere. With the trench territory covered, he investigated the sportswear he’s been adamant to introduce to the business, elevating and refining hoodies with cape structures and hoods that had a couture sensibility about them. Drawing on his premise of instinct, Tisci abstracted animal prints on little lightweight dresses like the butterfly motifs you get “when kids put color between two pages and they open them,” he explained. Along with those Bambi ears, it added a childlike sense of wonderment to the otherwise bold cuts that embody the very personal lines Tisci is now bringing to Burberry.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Men’s – Rave Energy. Burberry SS22

It takes time for a designer (even a very renowned one) to find his voice again. Riccardo Tisci‘s first seasons at Burberry felt overdone and unedited. But lately, starting from his spring-summer 2021 collection, it seems he finally feels confident with his role at the British house and knows what his vision for Burberry really is. The spring-summer 2022 line-up is quintessentially Tisci: dark, sensual, sharp. Filmed in an urban desert landscape by the Millennium Mills in East London’s Royal Victoria Docks, Tisci’s men’s collection distilled the aesthetic so distinct to his career into his most personal Burberry show to date. There were trench and carcoat references aplenty, but in its pure expression, this was Burberry learning Tisci’s language and not the other way around. He hacked the sleeves off outerwear and re-sculpted it into warrior form, refined the raglan lines of sportswear, and managed to make a halter-neck silhouette look hunky. Combatant chest plates continued those conversations, some reduced to just a ghostly outline on a T-shirt, while the exaggerated straps of workwear conjured visions of skeletons and rib cages, bringing back those delectable Memento Mori or Día de Muertos images Tisci’s work so often evoked in the past. Lifting each color of the Nova check, he covered the whole thing in a thick, luxe, dusty blanket of beige, white, red, and black, with sky blue nods to “the only thing we’ve been able to watch” while trapped lockdown. His interpretation of Burberry’s codes – deconstructed but refined – felt so authentic to his ethos, you wondered why he hadn’t taken this route sooner. “It takes time for a designer to find the right fit when you’re working in a company. For people outside, it seems like you just go there and…” he paused. “It’s an interesting process. The bigger the team, the more interesting and tough and difficult it is. So, it’s good that we’ve arrived here. After three years, the identity is getting clear.”The pandemic has also changed Tisci’s outlook: “I feel at home, even if I’ve been in lockdown. The world is going to restart, and for me, this was fresh. It’s what we want today: expression, freedom, physical freedom; to be ourselves. It’s punk in a positive way: breaking the boundaries.” Watching the world come back to life – “and the young generation pulling crazy looks again!” – Tisci was reminded of his early twenties when he escaped to India and had his eyes opened to another reality. “I remembered my first rave in India, with Shpongle, one of the best DJs in trance music,” he said, referring to the group that also scored the show, “partying in these open spaces, with all this nature, with all these young generations from around the world, being myself and expressing myself. I come from a poor family, but raves were somewhere I could express myself and be on the same level as everybody else.” Imbuing his collection with those memories of rave, it was as if that scene was once again giving Tisci a place to freely express himself.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.