Georgia O’Keeffe — a perfect fashion muse for now, independent to the core, urbane and earthy, her defiance of convention manifested in an appealing sartorial practicality. She offers a wealth of visual imagery to mine, both in her work and the portraits of her by her husband, Alfred Stieglitz.
“I just love her, and how she went against the norm,” Tory Burch said during a walk-through of her pre-fall collection. “She was a person who wasn’t going to wear a corset, and she wore flats. Just the way she approached nature and her subjects is fascinating to me.”
That fascination led to an investigative trip to Santa Fe and O’Keeffe’s famed Ghost Ranch, from which Burch drew inspiration for her lineup. It features clean, unfettered silhouettes with hints the artist’s own style — crisp shirtdresses, an unfussy smocked number, subtle Japanese touches. From O’Keeffe’s work, Burch took saturated shades of warm, russets and reds played against sober navy, ivory black and white. She also incorporated abstract prints, bold stripes, cowhide and unfussy decorative elements such as mirror embroideries for an aura of casual confidence. Burch also worked in the occasional embroidered slipdress. Whether a nod to O’Keeffe’s New York years or merely smart merchandising, they work a sensual charm, perfect for relaxed evenings.
Burch’s interest in O’Keeffe is about more than visual appeal. In her research, she came across a letter the artist penned to Eleanor Roosevelt in 1944. It struck a chord, and Burch made copies for pre-fall visitors. Upon learning that the First Lady was against the proposed Equal Rights Amendment, O’Keeffe argued that, if successful, “it could very much change the girl child’s idea of her place in the world.” A goal that still resonates. Talk about style with substance.