Historically, fashion week shows have been notoriously exclusive. But in a post-pandemic world, Tory Burch wants to spread the joy to everyone. The designer took over a portion of Mercer Street in New York’s SoHo neighbourhood to present her brand’s spring summer ‘22 collection this afternoon, inviting diners at a slew of local bars and restaurants to join in the fun. The end result was a kind of high-end block party, complete with runway appearances by Kate Upton and Liya Kebede, and a performance by Lil Buck and the drummer Corneli.
Paying homage to American fashion heritage is a running theme throughout this season, perhaps no surprise given that the theme of today’s Met Gala is ‘In America: A Lexicon of Fashion’. Burch took as her inspiration the iconic 1940s-era womenswear designer Claire McCardell. “Her legacy of sportswear revolutionised the way women dress,” Burch said in the collection’s show notes. “She discarded the rules of what women should wear, instead problem-solving for the reality of their lives. Her designs instilled a sense of freedom, encouraged self-expression and empowered women with a casual elegance that is as relevant today as it was in the late ‘40s.”
These homages were subtle and overt. Overall the collection had the careless freedom of weekend or holiday dressing, but the pieces incorporated workwear details that were signatures of McCardell’s designs, including hook-and-eye closures, double top-stitching, and exaggerated pocket details. The collection was part of an ongoing partnership between Tory Burch and the Maryland Centre for History and Culture, which houses Claire McCardell’s archives. Upon trawling through them, Burch decided to reissue two of McCardell’s designs for SS ‘22: a pair of simple flats she first created in 1953, and a striped silk-cotton boot.
Elsewhere the collection was bursting with the kind of easy day-to-day pieces that have made Burch one of America’s most renowned contemporary designers. Madras plaid and picnic check day dresses were cinched at the waist with corseting made of eyelet hooks, bustiers were worn with slouchy trousers, jersey tops were colour-blocked and worn with full-skirts. The colour palette was a joy-making array of reds, lavenders, fuschias, and chartreuse, brought to life with slouchy leather totes and hobos, oversized pendant necklaces, and gladiator sandals. A new handbag shape—the Lampshade—debuted, a bucket bag style made to look like the inverse of a 1950s lampshade hat. “There is a delicate tension between the retro and the modern,” Burch said in her show notes. The balancing act never looked so good.