Few designers have mined their own family’s history as much as Burch for inspiration. Though few have had as charmed a youth as Tory, whose well-heeled parents took long summer holidays around the more exotic parts and cultures of the world. Travel that forms the wellspring of her own personal style and the house’s remarkable success.
“When I look at photos of them I think of laid-back sixties elegance. And that’s what I wanted to achieve today,” said Burch, dressed in a Something Wild silk print outfit.
And, what was Tory doing when her parents embarked on their fabulous travels?
“They left the kids at home! It was a different time, though I had fun with my brothers on our farm. I was a real tomboy. But my parents came back with total treasures, market finds, beaded ideas and great stories,” recalled Burch.
The results four decades later were seen in this very cool show, which opened with nautical silk crepe shirts; somewhat Amish white cotton poplin dresses; silk georgette frocks with scarf collars; and elaborate tunic dresses in strips of viscose, jacquard and cotton.
Her best ideas featured beautifully embroidered lace dresses and tops, embellished with metal chains, discs and coins. Gold link bracelets and chains completed the look on many bags. She anchored many outfits with practical canvas booties trimmed in retro rubber soles and toecaps. The mood was high bohemian and very jaunty.
The setting was elegiac too, the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, where the models strolled around the Arthur Ross Terrace and Garden, remarkably the only garden on Fifth Avenue.
Burch’s invitation even contained two small photos from 1979 and her bucolic youth. One of Tory and her mother Reva on a farm, mum hugging a poodle and Tory patting a corgi. The second was of her dapper dad Buddy in chinos and a striped shirt on the steps of some Grand Hotel in Greece. Both capturing the ecstatic sense that travel to fresh lands can bring, which is central to Tory’s DNA.
Burch, whose maiden name is Robinson, even played the classic Simon & Garfunkel tune Mrs. Robinson at the finale. Her mother Reva (née Schapira), a noted beauty known to have dated both Steve McQueen and Marlon Brando, clearly loved the reference, which earned a huge murmur of approval. As well it should have.
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