A tidal wave swallowing a lighthouse—this key visual on the show’s e-invite started an internal dialogue. What is the intended message? Is Burberry bracing against all adversities given this current climate? Or is it about the survival of the fittest?
Despite the massive lag during the live stream transmission, the show eventually starts inside a mirrored changing room where model Anok Yai is seen dressing herself, one item at a time, in an almost ritualistic manner. The silence is broken when the haunting voice of German artist and performer Anne Imhof fills the air and the scene slowly changes into an undisclosed forest setting. Models, accompanied by men in dark suits, wander around the woods like prisoners of war, while smoke screens add tension.
The first look is a full denim ensemble with a built-in denim vest on trench with hip waders in a matching material. As the collection builds, the imagery of that tidal wave starts taking shape in a wash of sea creatures like mermaids, giant squids, stingrays and, finally, the signature symbol of fear—the great white shark. They act as motifs across pussy bow shirts and trenches, while digital prints of atmospheric tides trick the eyes into believing that it’s all tie-dye when splashed across a dress that doubles as a trench.
Titled ‘In Bloom‘, the collection pushes the senses into overdrive when the bold orange section of the collection—that screams boiler suits worn by seamen—gives way to a devastatingly beautiful series of aquatic humanoid prints, naïve doodles and comic-like graphic images (another signature of Riccardo Tisci’s). The show comes to a glittery crescendo when square-cut crystal dresses, draped across torsos like the glistening flesh of a mermaid, bring the presentation to an eventual close.
To many, the Burberry spring/summer 2021 show had all the trappings of Tisci’s past work, which may not be seen as new, but to me, it felt the most Tisci—the very essence of his DNA, that fine balance of mixing beauty, strength, fear and fragility coupled by that great sense of showmanship that has earned him a cult following right till this very day.