There are few things more fundamentally English than afternoon tea, the Queen, and the iconic Burberry plaid. But change is afoot with one of these enduring institutions—the 163-year-old fashion house of Thomas Burberry, inventor of weatherproof gabardine, outfitter of Ernest Shackleton, and clothier of British officers in the First World War. With the recent appointment of Italian design maestro Riccardo Tisci to its helm, the label is transforming itself from quintessentially British brand to inclusive, global symbol.
One of the first contemporary designers to riff on gender fluidity and streetwear, Tisci is no stranger to shaking things up. During his more than 10 years at Givenchy, he elevated the 1950s Audrey Hepburn–esque classic label to a modern high-fashion juggernaut via a deft interplay of street style, sex appeal, and haute couture. Under Tisci’s tutelage, Givenchy never lost its signature femininity but was reborn with bold, seductive glamour and graphic silhouettes.
Now ensconced at Burberry, the subversive designer wasted no time in reimagining the stalwart brand through the prism of its past. Delving into the archives, Tisci was immediately drawn to its visionary founder, Thomas Burberry, who not only launched one of the U.K.’s largest branded clothing companies of the 1800s, but also recognized early on the importance of outfitting celebrities (Lord Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts, wore his wares). Using motifs from the archives, Tisci, in collaboration with legendary British art director and graphic designer Peter Saville, crystallizes his vision with a new signature house symbol featuring Thomas Burberry’s interlocking initials in tonal shades of beige and brown. A distinct Monogram stripe in red, white, and black adorns the TB initials found in both ready-to-wear and accessories.
To celebrate the new limited-edition Thomas Burberry Monogram collection, Burberry and the Vancouver location of Holt Renfrew (another venerated 180-year-old institution) have teamed up to feature the collection in an innovative pop-up. Taking over the Skybridge, along with in-store and window installations, the Monogram installation explores the idea of contrast and perception while making reference to the architecture of historical British buildings. This abstract kingdom of Monogram castles also contains cardboard building blocks and silver- and gold-mirrored cubes, while rectangular shapes are covered in Monogram packing tape.
Burberry Monogram Collection Holt Renfew pop-up runs until Sunday, June 23. The collection is also available online at Burberry.com, and at Burberry locations across Canada.
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