The Burberry show might not have been the triumphant moment of upbeat glamor that had been planned for London Fashion Week this season, but it was a blockbuster demonstration of its firepower.
When Britain’s biggest luxury brand quickly postponed its post-pandemic return to the calendar as a mark of respect after the Queen’s death, Burberry’s main Saturday schedule became one of the Mondays between Milan and Paris fashion weeks.
Rather than take place in a central London landmark, logistically impossible as the capital prepared for the royal funeral, the rescheduled show was moved to a warehouse in Bermondsey, south London.
Nonetheless, the show highlighted the strength of Burberry. Kanye West and Stormzy applauded from the front row, while supermodels Naomi Campbell and Bella Hadid graced the runway.
At the center of the hangar-sized industrial venue, soprano Nadine performed a specially commissioned piece of music by composer Paul Mealor, choir director at Crathie Kirk Church in Balmoral, where Queen Elizabeth II frequently attended services. Sierra and the London Contemporary Orchestra, clad in black Thomas Burberry TB monogram baseball caps.
It was an unwelcome delay for Burberry, with an extra week of front-row gossip about industry buzz.
The contract signed by Riccardo Tisci when he was appointed five years ago, after a long and successful tenure by Christopher Bailey that put Burberry back on the fashion map, is about to expire.
Tisci has been a respectable entry, bringing edge and a very significant youth audience to a brand that had been criticized for becoming predictable. It has also kept the Burberry show on the road through a challenging period for a brand that is more reliant than many of its rivals on customers in China, where prolonged lockdowns have hit profits hard.
But with a changing of the guard in the Burberry boardroom (Marco Gobbetti, the CEO who brought Tisci to Burberry, has been replaced by Versace alumnus Jonathan Akeroyd), Tisci’s own reign may be coming to an end. its end. The name of Daniel Lee, the young British designer whose brief stint at Bottega Veneta showed he had winning form with an It bag, has been linked to the house.
Tisci’s critics argue that he has failed to exploit Burberry’s opportunity to be Britain’s premier historic luxury house, and that sense of disconnection strikes a dissonant note. Burberry described the collection as inspired by the British seaside. But the references to beach life in the clothing—oversized shark earrings suspended from a diamond hook, sandals with hook-and-loop closures inspired by surfboard straps—were more tropical island than lounge chair and a cabin on the beach.
It was Tisci’s own design firms that stood out. His fingerprints were everywhere in the High Victorian Gothic of long, intricate lace dresses and the bold, surreal streetwear of inflatable backpacks and garish sweatshirts.