Tory Burch: Downtown femininity at the Odeon
Tory Burch returned to the canteen of her youth, to the famed Odeon restaurant of Tribeca, for her latest collection, a poetic homage in haute-gamme American sportswear to the women of New York making it through the pandemic.
“I started thinking about what New York had given to me personally and what it gave to everyone. Especially as New York has been such a disaster with so many business closing and people struggling,” explained Burch in an early morning Zoom from New York with Paris editors.
Though the key to her Fall/ Winter 2021 collection were the fabrics, drape and layering, as Burch riffed with subtle nostalgia on her own mother’s artful blend of mixing menswear with polished ladylike items.
Like a brick-hued corduroy suit that reminded her of mum coming up to shop in Manhattan; a great lambskin barn jacket worn with a chic cashmere turtle neck; or charming quilted satin vests.
The designer also played around with raw Japanese denim blazers and skirt suits, “for office or not,” and showed a multi-button linen dress, where each button was different, giving a faux vintage ambience. Tory also impressed with denim chambray ruffle-neck dresses; and even more with twill crepe jackets and devoré dresses with Japanese motifs and traditional Lyonnais flowers.
She played artfully with American sportswear ideas, using menswear fabrics like moleskin in sailor's pants for women; and added in touches of Western flair - from the poplin dress with a Denver schoolmarm attitude to a Lee Radziwill bag, with a more organic shape and cowboy detailing.
Burch actually grew up on a farm in Penn before landing a job with designer Zoran on condition she relocated to New York within a week. She ended up living on Greenwich Street, a few blocks from the Odeon.
Once again, Burch showed out-of-season, almost four weeks after the last show in New York Fashion Week, where she has been a key show for over a decade. Six months ago, Burch created a show video, in that case a fashion flick inside the historic Shaker Museum in Massachusetts, an offshoot of Quakerism, whose inclusive version of Christianity and unfussy aesthetic help inspire a refined and coolly charming collection. So, taking her ideas downtown was a significant switch.
Burch anchored this fall’s looks with curved-heel boots or lug-soled clogs and showed a new hobo bag in a leather that expands and contracts, named 151 Mercer. That’s the address of her new store due to open next door to another iconic NYC downtown destination, the Mercer Hotel.
At its opening, Burch plans to release a video of eight women entrepreneurs from different boroughs around the city wearing the collection.
“I’d been asking myself, how do we give back to New York? Women have been hit particularly hard hit,” stressed the designer, who explained that her company will make financial contributions to several local women-owned businesses.
When one French editor noted that the collection reminded her of Annie Hall, Burch responded: “Obviously, Woody Allen is not my reference at all. But there is something about Diane Keaton, who, like my mother, always mixed in men’s pieces but still looked uber feminine.”
“As terrible as it has been, the pandemic has definitely given me the opportunity to find some space. Even if we have never worked harder. But handing over the operations to Pierre Yves (Roussel, her husband and new CEO) has been a godsend. It’s allowed me to be able to focus on design and product. And to think about how much New York has given to us all,” insisted the designer, perched in her studio in her 19th Street headquarters.
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