Burberry’s Alternate Fashion Reality – The New York Times


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The British brand holds a post-London Fashion Week show.

LONDON — Call it London Fashion Lunchtime.
On Friday, three weeks after the city’s Fashion Week took place and two days after the end of the official season in Paris, Burberry staged its dual-gender fall 2022 show. It was midday. The site was Central Hall Westminster, across the way from Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament. Guests were gathering.
Anna Wintour, the chief content officer of Condé Nast and global editorial director of Vogue, and Edward Enninful, the editor of British Vogue, were standing in front of the Champagne bar, not drinking. The actor Adam Driver was heading backstage, face stern, body seemingly as chiseled as it looks in the ads for Burberry’s Hero fragrance, in which his unclad torso stars. He was looking for Riccardo Tisci, Burberry’s chief creative officer, who was holding court in a room labeled President’s Suite.
Like much of reality at the moment, everything seemed the same, but different.
“We wanted to show in London and be proud to be a British company that’s showing in this country,” Mr. Tisci said before the show. Only, well … “a lot of things happened,” Mr. Tisci said, like Covid and the imminent arrival of the brand’s new chief executive. And then there was war. So they were a little late.
The day before, Burberry’s collaboration with the streetwear giant Supreme, which included hoodies, trucker jackets and T-shirts, had sold out in less than a day. By contrast, Mr. Tisci said, the show collection was a lot more “couture.” (By that he seemed to mean fancy.) Also British. Mr. Tisci said he was de- and reconstructing the pillars of the house: trenches, car coats and checks. “I feel more at home,” he said, almost four years after joining the brand. “I can play with it.”
Behind his head were two pinboards with photos of every look he was about to show: women’s wear on one, men’s on the other. Mr. Tisci pointed to a trench turned into a bustier dress and a pink twin set, embellished with crystals that formed the brand’s knightly emblem, as examples of what he was talking about.
When guests were led into the hall, the lights were off. In the space were five round tables, set for lunch, visible only by the glare of people’s phones. Someone said it looked like “The Last Supper,” only a fashion version.
There were no chairs and so no pecking order. Everyone just stood around (this is what fashion calls democracy), an audience of hundreds. Some muttered about Covid. Others worried about fainting. Security worried about how the models would get through the crowd. It turned out the catwalk was actually somewhere in the middle of where the audience was standing.
The models streamed down the steps on either side of the hall’s great organ, before setting on a path that had been cut through the standing crowd. As they walked, the London Contemporary Orchestra played works by Michael Nyman and Max Richter from the balcony.
Men’s wear came first, in a torrent of looks involving double-breasted blazers with gold buttons, knit plaid hooded overshirts with a large triangle cut out on the chest revealing a T-shirt beneath splashed with the word ENGLAND. There were some baseball caps hybridized with padded headbands.
Then the crowd was asked to move out of the way as new paths were cut, and the women’s wear appeared at a steadier, statelier pace. A choir joined in from above.
It turned out the dining tables were not for eating at all but rather for the models, who climbed up a set of steps hidden at the side, then stood and paused in turn, the better to show off their outfits of high British stereotype: reliable outerwear, sensible knits, knee-length skirts and grand gowns. The kind of clothes perfect for a nation collectively preparing to jump out of its Land Rover and head to a country house ball. Gigi Hadid, in a diamond quilted coat, vamped as if she was about to run to the grocery store. The club promoter Ladyfag wore a long-sleeve top stitched together from different Burberry labels.
As they ascended their tables, some models wobbled in their towering thigh-high stretch leather boots. Mr. Enninful, who happened to be helpfully positioned by the steps of one table, held out his hand to stabilize or reassure, as needed. In the crowd, Naomi Campbell, wearing a black trouser suit, looked on. Carla Bruni, in sleeveless crimson, vaped. When Mr. Tisci took his bow, he stayed by the organ, up high.
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