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Tory Burch: Artily feminist power dressing

Published
Feb 10, 2020
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Tory Burch took her inspiration from fine art this season. Specifically, the quirkily offbeat and monumental ceramic sculptures of Francesca DiMattio, and the result was one of her most powerful collections to date.


Tory Burch Fall/Winter 2020 at New York Fashion Week - Instagram/Tory Burch


Patterns, images and odd objects all blend together in DiMattio’s art, just like in this collection, staged with skill on a sunny Sunday morning inside the looming auction rooms of Sotheby’s, located practically on the East River.
 
Burch borrowed 10 major works by the artist and positioned them throughout the auction rooms, so the cast interfaced with the artwork. DiMattio’s beasts – 10-foot-high poodles, thee-meter totem poles or candelabras with an eight-foot diameter – are eclectic pieces, where tiny figurines like wizened monkeys compete with fragmented floras and classic caryatids. In true Burch fashion, however, it all seemed hyper coherent.

Starting with the great opening look worn by Natalia Vodianova, a floral pantsuit and knee-high boots combo in contrasting floral motifs that looked marvelous, and will be highly influential. The prints echoed a large ceramic greyhound anchoring one of the legs of DiMattio’s sculpture, named “She-Wolf.”
 
Even simpler items, like a crepe de chine top or Napa leather pants, referenced the art’s particular palette, as seen in another work called “Venus III.”
 
Burch varied the selection from Wild West prairie wedding dresses to strict gray mannish suiting. And there were echoes of JW Anderson in the askew composite frocks in huge patchworks of porcelain floral, crepe de chine and printed silk twill. Then again, as Burch’s stylist Benjamin Bruno is also part of Anderson’s cohort, that is perhaps a little inevitable.
 
“I’ve been an enormous fan of Francesca DiMattio for years. Her artwork challenges the traditional forms of femininity. She’s a great inspiration to me,” explained Burch post show.
 
Coolly, the designer kicked off with the show with a marvelous performance by singer Alice Smith, who strolled through around the artworks, micro in hand, singing some tremendous jazzy R&B.


Backstage at Tory Burch Fall/Winter 2020 for New York Fashion Week - Instagram/Tory Burch


The show was also in effect the latest affirmation of Burch’s firm membership of the Gotha of American fashion – one of a half dozen designers who today define style in the USA. Doubly so in a New York season bereft of such luminaries as Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein and Tom Ford.
 
New York has been the de facto artistic capital of the planet since the 1950s, so scores of New York designers have referenced favorite local artists in their collections before. But few have done so with such aplomb as Tory did today, in a thoroughly good display of clever contemporary style.

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