Tory Burch does Quaker Shaker chic
The Quakers, early advocates of democracy, religious freedom and equality for women, where the key inspiration for the latest collection by Tory Burch. Even if the collection didn’t feel remotely political; more a statement about the need for restrained creativity at this very particular moment.
“With so much heartbreak and chaos are around us, I looked for inspiration in memory. Going back to my childhood when I went to a Quaker school, a sect of Christianity that embraces all religions and people. And equal rights for women and men,” explained Burch, in a video conference with editors in Paris on Thursday.
Like so many designers, Burch skipped any actual live catwalk event this fall. Instead, she shot a video at Shaker Museum in Massachusetts, using the early 19th century wooden structures as the ideal backdrop. Even including the Brethren’s East Shop, a mustard-colored timber building of the Shakers – an offshoot of Quakerism - that was used as a tailoring workshop to produce the utilitarian clothes of this sect.
The end result was a spring-summer 2021 collection that managed to be unfussy yet highly creative; in many ways one of Burch’s best ever fashion expressions. The season in general has also sounded a further death knell for see-now-buy-now fashion; since pretty well all of the collections shown by major designers will not be available for another three months. Burch’s collection, for instance, will start to retail on February 2021.
Tory’s polished puritans will appear next spring in embroidered poplin dresses or blouses, often with removable collars; striped tunics with cut-off tulip sleeves; quilted line coats in streaky blues; and defined embroidered peacoats in raffia prints.
For racier moments, macramé dresses paired with silk crepe pants, over lace-up sandals; and slouchy yet feminine bright white poplin gowns with macramé tassels.
Tory even showed a retro sweater with the image of a couple playing with their dog, which the designer said was very good “therapy,” something her design team like to tease her and hubby Pierre-Yves Roussel about.
“I had to go back to an earlier time in my life. Visiting Pennsylvania craft shops with quilts; seeing baskets hanging up in the mud room of my parents farm. There is a Quaker maxim: Beauty rests on utility,” smiled Burch, referring to her family home in Valley Force, ironically for the pacific Quakers, the site of Washington’s Continental Army during the War of Independence.
Like the egalitarian Quakers who had women ministers well before other religions, Burch shared menswear materials with her ladies – such as a cream colored pinstripe suit that was extremely spruce, and recalled her dashing dad, as did several references to her father’s classic Moroccan caftans.
Other sure-fire commercial hits included a new Capri sandal, and a new Eleanor bag made in soft leather that expands and contracts. Her accessories team even rolled out a folded loafer that is as soft as a ballet flat, which should spark a whole new trend; as might her light blue glasses for the computer.
The lockdown, she explained, had partly been a silver lining by granting her time to just focus; helping encourage the concept of the restraint; and the importance of integrity to fashion. She noted that during lockdown a lot of new customers were Gen Z.
“Which is very hopeful. Since younger people want brands that stand for things. I try to stay away from politics, which is hard right now. I want to stand for humanity and equal rights. What we want is to celebrate humanity and inclusion and diversity,” Burch concluded.
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