Well, it's official. After WWD reported in August that British style stalwart Burberry was shopping around to replace chief creative director Riccardo Tisci, today it’s been announced that the baton will be passed to Daniel Lee. The announcement follows Monday’s S/S 23 show which was postponed due to the passing of Queen Elizabeth II just before London Fashion Week. Marking Riccardo Tisci's final farewell to the brand, the presentation was a celebratory spectacle and featured the Italian designer’s closest friends and collaborators including Naomi Campbell, Ye (the artist formally known as Kanye West), and muse Mariacarla Boscono.
Lee’s appointment marks a new chapter for Burberry that's been looking to shift gears after the company named Jonathan Akeroyd as the brand’s chief executive in October. It was the former chief executive, Mario Gobetti, that was instrumental in hiring Riccardo Tisci. Unfortunately for him, Tisci was unable to translate the gothic romanticism of his era-defining tenure at Givenchy for the trench coat aficionados. Seriously, you couldn’t throw a stone in 2011 without seeing every Tom, Dick, and A$AP wearing that instantly recognisable rottweiler T-shirt. At Burberry, Tisci's mish-mash of conceptual ideas didn't resonate with critics with the only true signifier introduced being a Peter Saville-designed interlocking monogram inspired by brand founder Thomas Burberry. The uninspired visual identity leaves Lee with what's essentially a clean slate to formulate his own visual codes.
On Lee’s appointment, CEO Jonathan Akeroyd told press, ‘I am delighted that Daniel is joining Burberry as our new Chief Creative Officer. Daniel is an exceptional talent with a unique understanding of today’s luxury consumer and a strong record of commercial success, and his appointment reinforces the ambitions we have for Burberry. I am excited about working closely with him and I am confident he will have the impact we are aiming for in this next phase, supported by our talented and experienced teams.’
Tisci just didn’t generate the buzz that his predecessor Christopher Bailey did. While Bailey effortlessly balanced the edge of 2010s youth culture with twee aesthetics of quaint Britania, Tisci’s blend of utilitarianism, sportswear, and office attire didn’t captivate audiences. Worse yet, it was the inability to produce a covetable cash cow for the brand that might have sealed his fate, with the introduction of the lacklustre Lola bag leaving much to be desired.
In contrast, Daniel Lee’s time as creative director of Bottega Veneta was defined by his countless covetable creations like the buttery soft pouch and padded cassette bags that continue to dominate at fashion weeks around the world and helped revive the Italian heritage brand. Cutting his teeth as a womenswear designer at Celine under Phoebe Philo, Lee was able to entice the industry with his sleek tailoring and rave-inspired ready-to-wear. This culminated in the Bradford-native being awarded the top prizes at the 2019 Fashion Awards in London, taking home Brand of the Year, Designer of the Year, Accessories Designer of the Year, and Womenswear Designer of the Year.
‘I am honoured to join Burberry as Chief Creative Officer. Together with the team, we will write the exciting next chapter for this legendary British luxury brand, continuing its historic heritage and building on Riccardo’s legacy. I am very excited to be returning to London, a city that champions pioneering creativity and that continues to inspire me,’ explained Lee in today’s press statement.
Of course, we couldn’t opt out from mentioning the dark cloud that surrounded Lee’s abrupt exit from Bottega. While both parties put out statements that Lee’s unexpected departure was amicable, fashion’s rumour mill went into overdrive. As social media had a field day with the house of horrors that Lee allegedly ran at the Italian heritage house, no concrete evidence of such acts could be found. Is it miscommunication or another instance of the industry turning a blind eye to bad behaviour in favour of talent that's proven to generate sales? No matter what the truth may be, we can only hope that Lee’s British sensibilities are a much better fit behind the scenes at Burberry than they were at Bottega Veneta.