Tory Burch set a high bar for garden party-themed shows—inevitable during spring/summer collections—in the elegant courtyard of the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum on Wednesday morning.
Burch presented her fall collection downtown at the new Whitney Museum, so it felt appropriate for the Uptown Girl designer to stage this season’s show outside Andrew Carnegie’s original Georgian-style mansion on the Upper East Side.
Burch’s spring/summer collection was inspired by David Hicks, the famed 1960s and ’70s British interior designer best known for his colorful, geometrically patterned textiles and rugs.
These hallmarks of Hicks’ interiors have made “a lasting impression on our brand and on me,” Burch said in the show’s bounded program, which featured glossy photos of Hicks and his work.
Indeed, Burch’s signature logo resembles one of Hicks’ geometrically precise prints, and much of the brand’s DNA reflects Hicks’ spirit. One could argue that the brand’s most loyal demographic—uptown-preppy women who summer in East Hampton or Nantucket—is cut from the same cloth as Hicks.
The New York Times noted in his obituary that “even his most forgiving friends” admitted he was a snob of Olympian proportions.” And on his personal style: “So much of it was about control. There wasn’t a wrinkle or crease anywhere.”
Indeed, Burch’s latest collection seemed tailor-made for her brand’s original demographic—significantly more so than any of her collections in recent years, which have been more hip and youth-oriented.
It was also fiercely loyal to Hicks: geometric prints and rigorous tailoring featured prominently in the collection. There were tunics and gauzey, strapless dresses that looked like they’d come from a Tory Burch collection circa 2005.
Indeed, much of the collection felt dated and decidedly unhip—the kind of clothes a rich housewife wears with her Jack Roger sandals to an old-school country club. The best looks were contemporary-sporty and boho: wide-legged trousers with a stripe on the side; roomy silk pants in colorful prints; silver, floral-shaped pendant necklaces over flowy dresses.
It wasn’t her most inspiring collection, but that doesn’t mean it won’t sell. Burch is smart, so this back-to-basics move was likely strategic. It was a collection that strongly reflected the brand’s DNA: logo-branded beachwear, Hamptons garden party attire, and preppy sportswear with an edge.