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There was an understandable eeriness to Burberry’s spring/summer 2021 fashion show. The heritage brand opened London Fashion Week with a chat between Erykah Badu, Bella Hadid, Rosalía, and Steve Lacy that was surprisingly spiritual. Moderated by Badu, the pre-show got guests in a meditative, calming mood before the live stream presented a mix of performance art, and clothes that referenced the healing powers of water, the natural world, and society’s current confinement, excess, and emotional release.
“The circle is hugely symbolic – regrowth, renewal, the circle of life,” says Burberry chief creative officer, Riccardo Tisci, in a press statement. “The collection is called In Bloom because I was thinking about regeneration, about dynamic youth, about nature constantly recreating itself, always growing and evolving, always alive. Water is a symbol of that also – of newness, freshness and cleansing. And through water, life grows – water is what allows nature to bloom. Everything is circular.”
Tisci’s clothes for Burberry September 2020 showed four different social groups who exist in a meditative trance. At the epicenter were models dressed completely in white, draping themselves over white bedding that looked like a scene out of a sanatorium. These models were the performance artists at the center of the circular set and expressed the most emotion. The all-white, clinical clothing seemingly referenced mental health, confinement, and restriction that teeter on an intense emotional release.
Meanwhile the few people in white at the center, mostly Black and White men, scream, dance, sing, and wrestle. The majority of models on the periphery are dressed in colorful, vibrant outfits, sometimes holding mobile phones and video taping the poetic chaos of the center. The majority — thin, young women and men of diverse ethnic backgrounds — are numb, silent, and in a seemingly zombified state. As a third layer, there are some men in matching suits and dark sunglasses that are monitoring and following the vibrant majority. There is a sinister feel to them, and an aesthetic that references a government’s secret service, spies, The Matrix or Men In Black. The imagery of these secret, surveillance men touch on notions of conspiracy and being monitored in 2020.
Tisci’s design themes for Burberry spring/summer 2021 explored deconstruction and reconstruction, clinical whites, mariner oranges, the sparkle of excess, and the healing blue waters of mother nature with mermaid tail prints, sharks, and lighthouses set in the great British outdoors. Ahead, a closer look at the collection.