Sans prior conversation or show notes, one might easily have missed the inspiration behind Tory Burch’s charming fall collection: Lee Radziwill. “It’s not meant to be referential at all on her style because how do you perfect a style icon?” Burch mused about the woman who has become a friend. “But she is just such an inspiration. It’s more about her character and strength and resilience.”
How to translate resilience into clothes? Burch went the romantic route, with a waft of boho. Inspired by Pina Bausch’s Nelken, she installed a garden of pink carnations sprouting tall from imperfect, mossy grass beneath the soaring, tiled arches of a breathtaking vacant space near the 59th Street Bridge. It provided a grand yet ethereal venue for the collection Burch called “femininity in overdrive.”
On that point, she was half right. Feminine — absolutely. But not in overdrive, at least not if one reads that concept as excess. Burch seldom loses control of her message or her customers’ pragmatic expectations, in terms of both function and attitude. The latter: always positive. To that end, here she co-opted the title of Radziwill’s autobiography, “Happy Times,” for one of the collection’s major motifs, a demonstrative floral print that recurred throughout in five colorways. She used this for numerous of her dresses and skirts cut with languid lines and sometimes, billowing sleeves. There were ruffles, frills and the occasional poetic nightshirt extended into an alluring dress. Yet it never turned coy, due to manageable proportions and savvy styling that tempered the romance with a sportif spin: argyle sweater over floral skirt; crisp cropped jeans under a pristine white shirtdress, its ruffled collar and placket outlined in black. There were moments when Burch pulled back even more, indulging her girl’s tomboy side: suede bomber over spiffy stretch wool skirt; terrific suede trench. And in the spirit of practical chic, she offered a host of inviting parkas, including one fleece-lined beauty worn over a long shearling coat.
Burch’s clothes are not of the stop-the-presses newsy variety — and she knows it. “One thing that I’ve really focused on is making a collection that will appear in the stores, and not a runway collection and a [separate] commercial collection,” Burch said. “This is the collection that will appear in the stores.” It will look plenty appealing when it gets there.