Earlier this week Riccardo Tisci debuted his first collection at Burberry. Of all the celebrities in all the world, it was M.I.A. that was the first to wear Tisci’s designs off the runway at the premiere of her new documentary MATANGI / MAYA / M.I.A.
For M.I.A. (born Mathangi "Maya" Arulpragasam) this was one of the most important events in her career, and for Tisci the unveiling of his vision for the heritage house was one of the most important of his. The synthesis of these two points shouldn’t be lost amongst the Bambi and fawn print ensemble. And, yet, it is lying beneath the trench the most important elements of Tisci’s collection.
On her feet, the singer wore a pair of white and black court shoes with duck tape tightly wrapped around the bend of the sole. They are a raw punk proposition, steeped in the history of British anarchy and yet beautifully made and demure in silhouette. This embellishment makes perfect sense for M.I.A., a singer whose rise through the music ranks have been on her terms. The mixture of Britain past and present that were the core components of Tisci’s compelling heady first collection at Burberry are the same ingredients that make M.I.A and her music so persuasive. Though Tisci and M.I.A could not be more different they share raw verve and fresh perspective on the industries they inhabit.
That said, the rapper and record producer, like Riccardo Tisci, has spent her life on- and off- in the UK. Born in Hounslow, West London, she spent a portion of her childhood in Sri Lanka before moving back to London and eventually studying at Central Saint Martins, the same university where Italian born-Tisci studied and graduated from a year before the musician. Coincidence? I’d like to think not.
Peeling back the layers of duck tape and looking at the shoe itself gives us a clear idea of what Tisci and M.I.A hope to achieve from their sartorial statement. Over the weekend the internet exploded in outrage (TBH when doesn’t it?) over a pair of Golden Goose ‘taped up’ trainers. Why? These £430 shoes have with their faked dirt stains and improvised scuffs been called out for ‘glorifying poverty’. ‘Hideous’ is how one person described them on Twitter. They could not be further from Tisci’s proposition – a beautifully crafted shoe that evokes aeons of craftsmanship but uses the practices of Dadaism and objet trouve to add depth and subversion to a design classic.
At first glance Tisci’s debut collection could be dismissed as commercial, especially it’s made up of easy to wear separates and none of the extravagant couture he was known for at Givenchy. Yet, this humble shoe just goes to prove there was so much more to this collection that first met the eye.