It was Burberry like never before. The luxury fashion house that reinvented the idea of fashion shows (the house was the first to live-stream a fashion show) and pushed for digital and structural changes within the fashion industry, is no stranger to conceptualising digital-led projects. But perhaps this time, it was too much of everything.
The live-stream began rather awkwardly. Behind-the-scenes takes are nothing new; in fact, Hermès produced an entire choreographed interpretation for its spring/summer 2021 menswear presentation. Burberry started out with Anok Yai getting dressed in her look within a multi-faceted mirrored room. It was unnecessarily voyeuristic only because it didn't lead to anything nor was it part of a bigger narrative—once Yai was done, she left the room but not before removing her phone (that was also live-streaming her changing) from its perch, never to be seen again.
Conceptualised in collaboration with German artist Anne Imhof, the actual show was an amalgamation of several parts. There was the traditional runway of models walking through the forest and eventually into a circular clearing; they were kept in beat (or so) with the help of Imhof's constant collaborator and musician Eliza Douglas performing on a platform; and then a separate choreographed art performance. There were also a host of men in formal suit-and-tie but quite like the Yai changing room escapades, seemed rather pointless.
Perhaps if we were to experience the show as part of a live audience (there were none, understandably), the seemingly disparate elements would have made sense. It didn't help that with more than two things going on at once, the cuts from runway model to Douglas to the group of performance artists, were too quick before anything could be fully fleshed out. It was quite like watching four different shows, which was frustrating because the clothes were possibly chief creative officer Riccardo Tisci's best thus far.
If there was any sort of message behind the collection and performance, it was completely lost on us with all the noise that was happening.
Look and feel: Thankfully, with this being a fashion show, the fashion didn't suffer from the same sort of confusion the concept did. If Tisci's previous outings at Burberry seemed to want to target every spectrum of the Burberry customer, the spring/summer 2021 collection was a more confident and concise collection. This was Tisci doing Tisci but for Burberry; a Burberry that still had elements of what has always worked for the house, but refreshed with a youthful spirit.
The collection essentially consisted of four coloured segments—blues, oranges, whites and blacks. While the staging was deep in the woods, the inspiration stemmed from the oceans. Burberry began with and is still known for its cotton gabardine trench coats that are designed to repel water. Here, the latter is embraced as a fictional love story between a mermaid and a shark that's been washed ashore to land. It's where the use of hardy workwear fashioned into fisherman-esque overalls, netting as beautiful layering pieces, and fisherman hats in bold hues come from.
Favourite looks: The menswear looks in the orange series were standouts. Look 24's ensemble that consisted of a curiously constructed blazer (the sleeve buttons were orientated in reverse) layered on top of a jumpsuit, made for an excellent proposal for spring/summer 2021 suiting. It's succeeding look with sleeve cutouts and purposely designed cutout-overall layer portrayed the sophisticated interpretation of the love story that Tisci came up with. And lastly, the artfully painted, sleeveless trench coat in look 27 is a stunning reenvisioning of the trench—one that we haven't seen in a while and can definitely get behind.
Favourite accessories: There wasn't an onslaught of products but what were shown made an impact. A key highlight would definitely be Burberry's pocket bag silhouette that's been interpreted as a crossbody bag for spring/summer 2021. It's clearly seen on look 31 as a combination of canvas and leather, but the all-black leather version on look 19 is something that we're gravitating towards.