Tisci has been ahead of the curve in almost all of the most important ways fashion has shifted over the last decade. He has a longstanding love of street wear. He pioneered the sweatshirt as a statement fashion piece during his tenure at Givenchy, and is a respected designer of trainers, partnering with Nike for a long-running collaboration.
When Tisci began putting the Givenchy slogan onto sweatshirts, critics sniped that it was moving a storied brand downmarket, but now that street wear brands are power players.
In the year since Tisci left Givenchy, rumour had persistently linked him with Versace. His close friendship with Donatella, and the fierce, unapologetically sexual aesthetic which he shares with her, led many to believe he was being lined up as her successor.
Instead Riccardo Tisci’s Burberry debut shocked London fashion week in the one way no one expected.
The new vision for Burberry, the aesthetic was flipped upside down and a contrasting look took over: zippered miniskirts, metal-trimmed anoraks, with stompy flat shoes and harsh winged eyeliner.
The biggest surprise of all was that it was the first section – the serene, ladylike pieces – that stood out as the winning look. Tisci, fashion’s favourite rebel, turns out to be a dab hand at Hermès-esque chic, to which he adds a hefty dose of sex appeal. A leather pencil skirt with a chiffon underlay, fluid black evening gowns suspended from delicately glinting metal straps, a leopard-spotted skirt over a slim leotard and a tailored trench dress had the audience seduced.
“Burberry is such a big part of British style. It is like the flag of England,” he explained, adding that he focused on tailoring because “I was the first one to do street wear on the catwalk – and now I think fashion has got too street.”
The changing of the guard at Burberry is the most significant reshuffle to happen to British fashion in years. Burberry is the biggest, most powerful, home grown fashion brand, which means its new designer has the power to change the weather over the whole of the UK fashion landscape.
Photography Charlotte O’Shea
Looks from Burberry’s Spring 2019 runway show. Photo: Niklas Halle’n/AFP/Getty Images