Goth Summer. Burberry SS23

For Burberry‘s spring-summer 2023 collection, Riccardo Tisci seemed to have many ideas. But in the end, the overall result was messy and unedited. It came as a surprise, because his recent offerings for the British brand suggested he finally found the right track. After five years in England, Tisci (so often labeled “goth” by the fashion press) has gained a better understanding of the intricacies and eccentricities of British society – such as the beach and summer culture that inspired his spring collection for Burberry. “British summer is very different to anywhere else in the world, because Britain is basically built on big cities on the water. That means you really see people dressing on the beach, because you never know when it’s going to rain or when there’s going to be sun. The beauty is the goth on the beach, like these kids we filmed the other day,” he said after the show, referring to the show’s goth-tastic teaser filmed in Margate. “Or, you’ll see a wedding, or someone who’s gone there at lunch time to read. It’s all different personalities.” Since Tisci brought a more sensual spirit to Burberry, its swimsuits have risen to best-seller status. That fact, mixed with his homage to the beach-going goth, created a collection of swimwear fusions and hybrids. Press release is one thing; in reality, the concept looked too awkward and clumsy. The model casting, featuring Naomi Campbell and Karen Elson, didn’t help in elevating these clothes. Swimsuit elements like bikinis and bathing suit cut-outs were entered into dresses and tailoring, which simultaneously incorporated the trademarks of the goth wardrobe: lace, netting, perforation, gothic fonts, and crinkled negligees. De- and reconstructed outerwear evoked the dress codes of the industrial corner of the goth population, with dissected hoods and sleeves tied around the waists of trench coats and three-piece suits with big-buttoned gilets replacing the traditional vest. After Burberry canceled its original presentation during London Fashion Week out of respect for the national mourning period that followed the death of the Queen, Tisci squeezed the show in on the Monday between Milan and Paris. Presented in a naked warehouse in Bermondsey – the London Contemporary Orchestra lined up in the middle of the space – it unfolded in complete silence before the soprano opera singer Nadine Sierra broke out in a poignant aria. It wasn’t until the finale that the orchestra joined in. “It was a moment of respect. She was the queen of the world – every country respected her,” Tisci said.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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Hard Candy. Burberry Resort 2023

Burberry, with the Italian creative director Riccardo Tisci in charge, is one British institution which continues to believe in centering itself on border-free, non-nationalistic points of view. Tisci’s policy of turning over his pre-collections to perspectives on Burberry’s Britishness from his international network of “friends and family” is a proof of that. This season, he looked to his American friend, the artist Jared Buckhiester, to collaborate. According to notes winged from Burberry HQ, the two see eye-to-eye on looking at the brand signatures through the lens of UK rave culture – the lasting impression of the late ’90s which Tisci has held close to his heart since he studied at Central Saint Martins over 20 years ago. Maybe no one ever actually turned up to illegal warehouse raves in Kings Cross or one-nighters in the muddy fields of England looking like the people in the lookbook. The remnants of that rave past seemed to have been cleaned up and embedded, perhaps, in hybridized military bombers and tailored coats in the form of the classic Burberry trench fused with a biker jacket. But really, the Tisci /Buckhiester vision is a far more polished, lux-ed up vision of what the notes called ‘workwear,’ spiked with some glam heavy-duty black leather and contemporary twists of gender non-conformity. As part of that, there are long, tailored column skirts – or possibly maxi-aprons – that appeared to be assigned to the menswear side of the collection. There are Burberry customers with conservative tastes, or, put it this way, people who are in the market for straightforward classic clothes without any overt branding. Tisci hasn’t forgotten to design for them this season. Alongside the Burberry plaid denims, the male maxis, and some of Tisci’s hyper sexy slit skirts and curve dresses, there were moments when clean, sharp tailoring – particularly two black tuxedo jackets – stood out. With all the black leather, sometimes head-to-toe, the dark sexiness returns for good to Tisci’s repertoire. It’s something we’ve all missed since his best Givenchy years, and wanted to see again at Burberry. Finally, we’ve got it back.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

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Britishness. Burberry AW22

In 1856, young Thomas Burberry set out to equip local sportsmen from a small outfitter’s shop in Basingstoke, England. He made his name by inventing gabardine, a waterproof, tightly woven cotton inspired by the loose linen smocks worn by English shepherds and farmers. And by the early 1900s, business was booming in the Burberry emporium on London’s Haymarket street. The firm gained prestige by outfitting high-profile Antarctic explorers, aviators, and mountaineers. And, in addition to kitting out more humble seekers of adventure – golfers, skiers, horsemen – it soon got into the business of fine everyday outerwear, too. It’s an unmistakably British brand, and in 2022, it’s really worth digging into a brand’s heritage and redefining its codes. After seven full seasons, Riccardo Tisci is finally on (what seems to be) the right path. For the autumn-winter 2022 fashion show, presented a few days after fashion month’s finale in London’s Central Hall Westminster, guests stood massed together in the dark, shuffling back to give way to Tisci’s supermodels, friends, and artist-celebrities as they descended from somewhere high up in the wood-paneled auditorium. Clad in the spectrum of Tisci’s ideas about global, generational, and gender non-conforming realities, British tradition and, of course, Burberry checks and trenches, they climbed up to pose on tables which were set with silver and crystal, as if for a country-house dinner. “It’s a reconstructed collection of what I find in Burberry, and what I’ve been living as human in this moment in Britain too,” Tisci said before the show. “It’s a different perspective – you know, the way you feel things was a very deep different journey.” That stood as an explanation for the leveling, everyone-together breaking of catwalk convention, except that the event simultaneously managed to be a bombastic reclaiming of Burberry’s corporate position, a landmark of the British fashion business with global reach. So two collections came out – a menswear one and the women’s. For women, he ran the gamut of trench-and-check daywear through to grand ballgowns, segueing though deconstructed evening trenchcoats. He said he’d pulled it together by focusing on country waxed and quilted coats, and pulling out the symbol of the Burberry Prorsum knight on horseback. There were blanket-skirts and tartan capes, as well as old-school, fleecy twinsets. The designer reflected on how he was initially daunted by paying tribute to Britishness, but now feels much freer about applying his own instincts. “I was scared,” he admitted. “You know, as an Italian, Britain is important – it’s a such an historical country, with so much to say. So at the beginning, it was like the first kiss. It takes time, you know. And now I find my own way.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

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