Gustav Klimt wasn’t high on Tory Burch’s favorite-artists list until she started frequenting the Neue Galerie. One such excursion a while back turned into a lightbulb-on moment. Drawn to the rich palette and patterns of Klimt’s portraits, Burch delved into a study of Art Nouveau. Her research led to the strong collection she showed on Tuesday morning.
Burch worked the motif with the utmost subtlety, her measured approach not surprising given that unlike designers who make an editorial splash and then spend years trying to figure out how the heck to make something wearable, she started with a few monster commercial hits, from there building a line with ample editorial appeal. So no literal Adele Bloch-Bauer worship here. Rather, Burch took her moody colors from Klimt’s work and focused on the blending of textures and patterns. She sent the message from the start with a loosely cut beaded beige-and-black herringbone coat over a satin dress with tonal embroidery. Almost every look had some kind of overt surface interest going on — whether a satin T-shirt with elaborate gold appliqués and a printed skirt, a sweater with a geometric knit in front and beetle print in back or numerous Nouveau-esque swirling florals.
With so much to look at on the surface, Burch kept her shapes simple but diverse. One could find a full wardrobe’s wealth of clothes, from sexy sheaths to dresses with waisted bodices and fluid skirts to a chic suit with a square-ish jacket and slim skirt. It was all pretty, interesting and wearable, three characteristics that added up to one very smart collection.