In conclusion of a year of “Go Big or Go Home” designs: from the return of the iconic Burberry blown up and all-over motifs for Spring/Summer 2018, to the colourful Poster palette led by the Pride rainbow cape worn by Cara Delevingne, Burberry’s star child at the time, during the Autumn/Winter 2018 finale walk – there was an anticipation for an undeniable change in creative direction when Christopher Bailey announced his departure in November 2017, after serving his tenure from Creative Director to Chief Creative Officer to CEO, from May 2001 to March 2018.
Since the announcement of former Givenchy Creative Director, Riccardo Tisci taking over the creative helms in March, Burberry fans have been waiting with bated breath as to what the new Chief Creative Officer will do to the British brand that has been hard pressed on promoting its rich heritage since 1856.
Tisci is known for casting a diverse and inclusive range of models of multiple ethnicities, genders and identities in his runway shows and campaigns; a passion of his in celebrating individuality, engaging in and providing a platform for social debate. If one were to have a quick look at his designs in Givenchy circa 2005-2017, it doesn’t take a fashion expert to note the disparity in design between Bailey and Tisci.
After Bailey’s last collection was out of the way in February, Tisci went straight to work, and as it turns out, with Peter Saville. In early August, Burberry revealed the Thomas Burberry Monogram, and a change of logo design; signs that a change is just around the corner. A chance that Tisci takes seriously, by going all out around the world, wrapping up its renowned flagship stores in the TB monogram like it’s Christmas.
Leading up to Burberry’s September 2018 fashion show during the London Fashion Week last Tuesday, the brand has been dropping teasers on its social media platforms, showcasing campaign images directly linked to the archives of Burberry: bold printed silk shirts with motif prints of timepiece and keyrings from the late 1990s, the iconic Burberry Wallpaper print circa 1998-2000, and an old pair of Burberry Pull-Overs pants from 1940.
The long-awaited turn of the page happened at the new venue of Vauxhall in South West London, during the London Fashion Week last Monday. As the first model took to the runway, and the previously dark space was flooded with light – a new chapter for the fashion house, and perhaps, a contrast of the dark interior of the re-launched Burberry Makers House in 2017, which served as the venue for but two of Bailey’s fashion shows that year.
At the new show space, albeit an exclusively designed soundtrack by Robert Del Naja from Massive Attack, Burberry did away the live runway performances that coincided with the show since 2014 back at the Kensington Garden venue. Playing their parts in the new chapter were British materials and textures, such as concrete, mahogany wood and critter glass, with moving walls in tonal brand colours forming small intimate view points for the audience.
Named “Kingdom”, the Burberry Spring/Summer 2019 collection celebrates the diversity and the heart of England, home of the melting pot of creativity and style traditions, from the punk and rebellious, to the formal and refined – all co-existing together.
“I was inspired by how much London – the city that made me dream to become a designer – has evolved,” Tisci explained about the collection that aims to capture the breadth of what British culture represents today, through new house codes and accessories that defines the visual language and lexicon for Burberry.
“This show is a celebration of the cultures, the traditions and the codes of this historic fashion house and of the eclecticism that makes up the beautifully diverse United Kingdom.”
In his way of writing in his new chapter of Burberry’s heritage history since 1856, Tisci introduced new styles and patterns never before seen in Burberry’s archives, particularly flaunted for the womenswear. The traditions are re-invented, as the iconic gabardine coat is re-imagined into over-sized casual shirts, and re-designed coats with patchwork designs, some pieces involving animal print motifs – yawn.
The colours of the Burberry Wallpaper is dissected and separated, making up the overall palette for the Autumn/Winter 2018 seasons. The 1874 Thomas Burberry Unicorn crest is minimalised to the simplistic and modernised “TB” crest, upon the chest of shirts and gabardines, whereas the 1940s Pull-Overs pants are dusted off from the back of the archival closet and brought to the catwalk once again with the Tisci touch.
While the collection may pale in comparison to Bailey’s flourishes of to the early 2010s, Tisci’s debut collection is, at the end of the day, practical and more accessible to a larger public. Unlike Bailey’s Autumn/Winter 2016 run with designs that include military lanyards embellishments, Tisci’s designs are more wearable and easily mixed and matched, not just to be worn once.
However, one could argue if Burberry’s new direction has gotten “too accessible” and “wearable” that it’s beginning to look like most, if not all, of the rebranded luxury fashion brands out there: basic-looking casual wears with a hefty price tag.
So, did Tisci live up to the hype he has created for himself the last few months? At this point, we are not really impressed with the collection. Much like the many luxury fashion brands out there, it seems like Burberry is heading down the same direction as well: hypebeast-ish pieces with its sport-infused and normcore pretensions, laced with the individual brand’s iconic monogram/insignia/motif.
That being said, it looks like the abovementioned direction is where the fashion industry is heading, as the millennial generation grows up to be their future target market. If a brand were to survive at least for the next five years, one may have to break free from the traditional styles the brand has come to be known for, (even re-imagined into a more “palatable” look for their new audience; as the saying goes, “if you can’t beat them, join them”.
All we can say at this point is, do not be disheartened, as there is still the collaboration with British designer Vivienne Westwood to look forward to in December. A limited edition collection of re-imagined iconic styles, in celebration of British style and heritage – what could possibly go wrong?
Watch the full Burberry September 2018 fashion show here: