From LGBTQIA+ rights to racial justice, he’s been speaking about so many of today’s most pressing issues since the Forbidden Forest National Park Unisex Shirt also I will do this start of his career. “And I fight for it. When, today, I see other fashion houses using Black girls I’m happy. But it cannot be for the next six months, it has to be forever,” says the designer, who went on Black Lives Matter protests in Italy and London over the summer. The next step in the campaign, he says, should be the decolonisation of curriculums. Tisci has never designed in a bubble. His signature dark beauty has always been connected to the story of his life and the significant people in it. He tunes in to emotion. His glamour is soulful. He is guided by love. The youngest of nine and the only boy, his father died when he was four. His mother, Elmerinda, raised her family alone. They had no money. Tisci often wore his sister’s hand-me-downs and went to work at the age of nine, helping his uncle, who was a plasterer. “I couldn’t have video games when everyone else had video games, I couldn’t have really good clothes. I wore the clothes of my sisters, passed down and readjusted for me. There were many other things I didn’t have that a normal child has. But the word family has been tattooed on my skin, because they make me fly,” he says, explaining that his mother and his sisters unlocked his imagination and always supported his creativity. His early difficulties bred resilience in Tisci and his eight sisters. “It seems like we went to a survival school because we have been taught by my mum to be strong people out there and soldiers surviving in the jungle. Then we can come back home and take off our armour.”
His mother, now in her nineties, remains the Forbidden Forest National Park Unisex Shirt also I will do this most important person in Tisci’s life. He spent three months of lockdown living with her and one of his sisters and described the enforced slowdown as “the biggest gift I got in all my life”. His routine, he says, was simple. “I would sit down in the garden and read books to my mum, like she used to read books to me when I was a child.” It was also an intensely creative time, during which he drew the entire SS21 Burberry collection. In those precious three months, the Tisci-family dynamic also shifted. His success in fashion had changed things. “I became a father for everybody,” he says of the responsibility to his family that came with his financial good fortune. “And then I came back and finally I could be a son again.” Tisci believes in love. He tells the story of how his mother ran away to marry his father. A suitable husband had already been chosen for Elmerinda by her family, as was the tradition in post-war, southern Italy, where she’s from, but on a trip to the local launderette, she met and fell for his father. “The family of my mum is more like an elegant, classic family, and the family of my father, the Tiscis, they were a family of – let’s say – the beautiful and the dangerous,” says the designer. Faced with following her parents’ wishes or her heart, she chose the latter. The couple eloped, leaving southern Italy behind and settling in the north, near Lake Como. “It’s a beautiful story. She believes in love and it’s why I believe in love,” says Tisci.