riccardo-tisci-finds-himself-at-burberry

Riccardo Tisci Finds Himself at Burberry

On Wednesday afternoon, a few hours after his Spring 2022 Burberry menswear collection debuted on Instagram, Riccardo Tisci perched in a tented room, the sun pouring in through the windows and the blue skies framing him like an angel at the center of Renaissance fresco. He was beaming, voluble, and overwhelmed with emotion. “Of course, every show is emotional,” he said, “but sometimes, there is one that has the magic. And this one had the magic. A very strong magic.”

Burberry’s heritage is so iconic it can be almost oppressive: the trench, the plaid, the rain. Tisci’s early collections at the brand, which he joined as chief creative officer in 2018, were sprawling, even overwhelming. “That was, like, me looking at myself,” he said, “trying to find myself.” But starting with his Fall 2021 collection, and more profoundly, with the one shown Wednesday, he seems to have found his way. These clothes are extraordinarily Riccardo. “I started feeling much more what I wanted to do,” he said of the past year.

Part of this was evident in his formal inventions for this collection. He has long been thinking, he said, about how Burberry is really a winter brand, known for its outerwear and clothing attuned to the English climate. (Hence the trench.) This presents an obvious challenge for warm-weather designs—one that Tisci seemed to crack this season. Here, he worked with a number of wobbly shapes—“very cartoony,” he explained—turning one such illustration into a buckled harness top. “I want to make it sexy,” he recalls thinking, “because in the summer, everybody wants to be sexy, wants to be naked.” Also new and notable (and sexy!): cargo pants with oversize flaps, a fitted square-neck sleeveless shirt with sheer-paneled pants, and trench coats turned into sleeveless leather jackets. Me-yow, mate!

Courtesy of Burberry.
Courtesy of Burberry.

As Tisci wisely put it, a “half-naked human is much more near nature.” He said that while he always enjoys attention from celebrities and magazine press, his proudest achievement has been seeing people wearing his clothes in the streets. “So I’m really waiting to see all these boys wearing these pieces!”—especially that backless halter bib.

“It’s become much more sexy, much more summery,” Tisci said of his Burberry. But it’s also become beefier, less stiff, and more wearable. It’s aggressive and vicious, in a way that will please fans who have been in Tisci’s pocket since his years at Givenchy, but will also appeal to those who see and appreciate all that is snarling, chaotic, and sardonic in British culture.

Courtesy of Burberry.
Courtesy of Burberry.

The video was also a personal high for Tisci. “I want to do a dream that’s a rave of freedom,” he says. “Burberry freedom, for everybody in the world, that is about celebrating life—be raw and be real and be young.” Models, covered in face piercings and with freaky hair done by the great stylist Jawara, stalked through a crunchy sand expanse, then burst into dance to the music of the psybient innovators Shpongle, of whom Tisci is a longtime fan. (I was hoping someone would do something really whole hog with their soundtrack this year, and this was that moment.)

For the legions of Tisci-heads, who appreciate that his tenure at Givenchy presaged the era of streetwear-fueled luxury, this collection will feel like a homecoming. “You can do a dream,” he says, “but a dream does not become reality if you are not successful in your dream. I’m celebrating right now. I’m very emotional, because finally we got together with everything.”

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