In a London Fashion Week largely free of controversy, save for the odd traffic-stopping protests on excessive consumption and climate change, Burberry found itself under fire for a hoodie that some claimed glamorised suicide.
Model Liz Kennedy called out Burberry creative director Riccardo Tisci on Instagram over the design, which featured in Sunday night’s show, saying it was “beyond me” how the most macabre interpretation of the design element could have been overlooked. “Suicide is not fashion. It is not glamorous nor edgy and since this show is dedicated to the youth expressing their voice, here I go,” she wrote. “Riccardo Tisci and everyone at Burberry it is beyond me how you could let a look resembling a noose hanging from a neck out on the runway. “How could anyone overlook this and think it would be okay to do this especially in a line dedicated to young girls and youth. The impressionable youth. Not to mention the rising suicide rates world wide.”
Kennedy, who walked in the show, said she was “extremely triggered” after seeing the garment at fittings for the show.
“Feeling as though I was right back where I was when I was going through an experience with suicide in my family. Also to add in they briefly hung one from the ceiling (trying to figure out the knot) and were laughing about it in the dressing room. I had asked to speak to someone about it but the only thing I was told to do was to write a letter.
“I am ashamed to have been apart of the show. I did not post this to disrespect the designer or the brand but to simply express an issue I feel very passionate about.”
“We are deeply sorry,” Mr Gobbetti said in a statement.
He said he called Kennedy and that the brand “immediately removed the product and all images that featured it. Though the design was inspired by the marine theme that ran throughout the collection, it was insensitive and we made a mistake. The experience Ms Kennedy describes does not reflect who we are and our values. We will reflect on this, learn from it and put in place all necessary actions to ensure it does not happen again.”
Tisci added: “It was never my intention to upset anyone. It does not reflect my values nor Burberry’s and we have removed it from the collection. I will make sure that this does not happen again.”
The Burberry “Tempest” show also made headlines in London for Tisci’s decision to “split” the spaces, meaning some guests saw the show in a refined space, while others saw it in a grungy garage. The idea, according to the designer, was to show “contrasting perspectives of the same collection”.
An Instagram post by Tisci featuring the hoodie, that has since been deleted, said he dedicated the show to the “youth of today” for “having the courage to scream for what they believe in”.
One of Burberry’s many advertising partners, Vogue has seemed to have taken down the image from the gallery – exercising the heritage brand’s ‘rights’ through advertising spend.