As London Fashion Week returned, largely, to in-person runway events last week the absence of a big budget Burberry show was keenly felt by many, not least the British Fashion Council who has long relied on the brand as a schedule kingpin.
But Riccardo Tisci is determined Burberry shall dance to the beat of its own drum, yesterday launching his Spring/ Summer 22 vision for the brand with an off-schedule digital presentation between Milan and Paris fashion weeks.
Animal Instinct is a collection dedicated to his late mother Elmerinda, who passed away earlier this year, “and to a journey full of new possibilities.”
The video, which went live on the brand’s social media and website at 1pm on Monday, felt stripped-back and contemplative. With no musical backdrop viewers heard models - among them Danish model-of-the-moment Mona Touugard and Joan Smalls – crunch their way through mounds of glitter, pad their way through a trench-lined cube and navigate a whirling wind tunnel. “It’s that idea of flicking between the endless realities and fantasies we have at our fingertips each day,” said Tisci.
And certainly the Italian designer let his inner fantasies run wild when it came to reinventing the Burberry trench: some of which came with chunky chain link embellishments and raw edge sleeveless hems, others with oversized sleeves and hoods and several ultra-cheeky iterations that came cropped at the back to reveal swimsuit-clad bottoms. Office attire these were not.
The conceal-reveal coats sat within a collection that chimed more broadly with the sex-centric mood sweeping fashion right now. Bondage-style leather collars, skirts with suspender-like dangling straps, leather corsets which turn to reveal strappy open backs and long sleeve knit tops with porthole cutout details all brought erotic edge to the athleisurewear aesthetic Tisci favours – and which sells so well in mainland China.
Glamour came via a standout diamante-encrusted bodysuit that had instant Kim K or Kendall Jenner appeal, while mini dresses adorned with sweeping fringing, frills and straps had an elegance and ease of movement. A large chunk of the collection came daubed with the ‘Universal Passport’ slogan that Tisci debuted at his men’s SS22 show in Paris in June and was this time seen on abstract print mesh tops (worn layered) and sleeveless blazers.
This collection is likely to be divisive. Sheer mesh sports vests worn over crop tops won’t be everyone’s idea of sexy. After the year we’ve all had, fashion needs to be playful, yes but also thoughtful, interesting and empowering. Is throwing on a ‘party-at-the-back’ trench coat really the way to make the Burberry woman feel uplifted and ready to face the world again?
As for the inexplicable Gollum-meets-Bambi animal ears that were fastened to models ears, will they help Tisci flog his sexy leggings vision? Or are they destined for the next TikTok meme?