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With a posh pied-à-terre in The Pierre Hotel and jam-packed calendar, Tory Burch appears every bit the elite New Yorker. But the designer’s (well-maintained) roots run deep in Philadelphia, the city of cheesesteaks, Rocky runs and the Liberty Bell. Burch, who turns 40 this year, spent her childhood in the leafy suburb of Valley Forge before attending the University of Pennsylvania. She makes frequent visits back to the farmhouse where she and her three older brothers grew up and where her mother, Reva, still lives.
The city and her parents’ society friends are perennial influences on Burch’s burgeoning collections. “I developed an interest in design watching my mother get dressed for an evening out and seeing the way my [late] father, Buddy, lined his dinner jackets with Hermès scarves,” she says. “The people I grew up around in Philadelphia had a classic American sensibility in the way they dressed, which has definitely been incorporated into my designs.”
This story first appeared in the March 24, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Here, Burch takes WWDScoop on a tour of Philly’s hottest spots.
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK
“Pod is one of my favorite places and was started by Stephen Starr, of Buddakan fame. The futuristic decor and conveyor belt sushi are a big hit with my sons, Henry and Nicholas, age 11, and Sawyer, seven. The fish is so fresh and the service is impeccable. The boys also love going to Cereality. They have all different kinds of cereals that they mix together for you and add whatever toppings and milk you want.
“Standard Tap is a wonderful old-fashioned neighborhood tavern. They have a wide selection of local brews, a fantastic jukebox and serve the best cheeseburger in town. The Old Guardhouse Inn was built in the 1790s and has such a great feeling of history. I love going there for dinner when I am in town. The Rooftop Bar at The Continental is perfect for a drink before or after dinner. It’s a great spot in the summer, but also cozy in the fall and spring because it has outdoor heaters and a fireplace.”
WHERE TO SHOP
“Since I don’t have my own store in Philadelphia yet, Anthropologie is one of my favorite places for unique gifts. I love their home section. They have such an unusual mix of vintage and new pieces and it is the perfect place to pick up a last-minute hostess present. Blue Mercury also has the best selection of candles, lotions and beauty products. They have a mix of both well-known and up-and-coming brands, so I always find something new to try.
“My step-daughters, Pookie, 23; Izzie, 22, and Louisa, 19, love to shop at Boyd’s and Skirt. They have great denim brands and a terrific mix of designers at all price points. Joan Shepp has an eclectic mix of designers ranging from Balenciaga and Dries Van Noten to Theory and Vince. They also have a fantastic shoe selection. My boys love skateboarding and always beg me to take them to the Spectrum Board Shop.”
WHERE TO STAY
“The Four Seasons is such a fantastic place to stay because it has a great spa and is 10 minutes away from many of the museums and other attractions the city has to offer. The Rittenhouse overlooks historic Rittenhouse Square and is steps away from shopping on Walnut Street. The Wayne Hotel is just outside Philadelphia and has been a Main Line landmark since the early 1900s. The rooms are all different and have a charming Victorian decor.”
WHERE TO GO
“I often find inspiration for my designs when I visit museums, and the Barnes Foundation is one of my favorites. It has a unique mix of Impressionist and Early Modern art, along with African sculpture and Native American jewelry and textiles. It also has an amazing arboretum with rare plants and trees from around the world. On May 3, they have their annual plant sale where I love finding unusual varieties of orchids.
“The Science Center at The Franklin Institute is the place to bring children who are full of energy on a rainy day. Now until May 4, the institute has an exhibit on the science behind Star Wars that I know my boys will love. The Philadelphia Museum of Art always has wonderful exhibits and I am really looking forward to seeing the Frida Kahlo show [now through May 18]. The museum also has an authentic Japanese teahouse that was constructed using original materials from the 18th century. The Rodin Museum has the largest collection of his work outside of Paris and was started by Jules Mastbaum. He started collecting Rodin pieces in 1923 and assembled a broad collection of sculptures, drawings and letters that were put on display when the museum opened in 1929. The gardens are magnificent. The Brandywine River Museum has an important collection of the Wyeth family’s art and houses some of my favorite paintings.
“For a fun night out with the kids I go to Lucky Strike Lanes with my boys, along with my brothers and their families. The retro Hollywood decor creates a fun ambience, and the menu is sophisticated enough for adults but simple enough that kids love it, too.”