It’s been 20 years since Tory Burch became known as the printed tunic queen of the U.S., building a multibillion-dollar business out of vintage-inspired pieces that drew on a moneyed American woman-of-leisure as muse. Her Reva flat, defined by its T-branded medallion, became the de facto shoe for the subway that millions of women tossed into their ludicrously capacious Tory-branded totes. The Lee Radziwill bag remains a big franchise for the brand.
But in the last few years, Burch has been hell bent on blowing up the preconceived notions of her brand and her creative ambitions. Her recent runway outings have plied the surreal. Last month, she unveiled a highly conceptual, cat-covered Los Angeles pop-up store on Melrose Avenue designed in collaboration with Humberto Leon, the cofounder of the cult retail concept Opening Ceremony. “I don’t even know what being on-brand is,” Burch said after her fall 2024 runway show, held at the New York Public Library on February 12. “When I heard people saying that internally, I knew I had to change.”
The collection was built to burst out of the box. The general silhouette descended from the classically ladylike. Hemlines on fit-and-flare dresses, A-line skirts and coats fell just below the knee. Tailored jackets and trousers bore the influence of the ’60s and ’70s. Working within those parameters, Burch got weird, experimenting with surface treatments and architectural silhouettes. She vacillated between the nice and neat—such as short, tailored denim jackets and trousers—and the out-there: a swimsuit-like vinyl body suit under a sheer skirt and a bright blue bonded leather skirt with boxy origami seams. The accessories were on point—molded pumps, cutout monk straps, new Lee Radizwill totes.
It was kind of awesome to see Burch be so fearless. She’s a powerhouse, one who knows that everyone thought they had her pegged. “I wish I had done it sooner,” she said of this embrace of creative freedom. “I feel like a new designer in many ways.”