American designer Tory Burch is a working mum, a successful businesswoman and ready to take on Germany
It seems impossible for American fashion designers to have traction in Europe based on clothes only. In the 1990s the buzz names were Victor Alfaro, Todd Oldham, Richard Tyler, Isaac Mizrahi and Anna Sui. None of them really ever sold a stitch in Europe. Marc Jacobs with his LVMH association seemed in the process of changing that in the new millennium while Calvin Klein was still closing down his collection store on Avenue Montaigne and the hot names of the new millennium in New York were Imitation of Christ, Tuleh or Narciso Rodriguez which also never went on to sell many clothes in Europe. Based on fashion alone it does not seem to work. American designers who succeed create an entire lifestyle, i.e. Ralph Lauren and his Wild West dream and WASP chic, Tommy Hilfiger and his preppy style, Calvin’s sexy underwear and jeans or Michael Kors’ jet set chic.
For labels to take off in Europe another layer needs to be attached. Donna Karan had a moment as well with a big store on Old Bond Street in London based on her zen and yoga clothes but that never really took off either even if she was the first working women’s designer. Obviously out to grab her mantle is one sassy and goodlooking blonde called Tory Burch. She knows what she is doing. For the opening of her Paris store last summer she didn’t drag the crowd into her new Saint Honoré flagship which most designers do for their openings and which in fact is always a grueling task to attend. No, she rented one of the best courtyards in Paris on Place des Vosges and brought along New York soul sister Lauryn Hill to throw a concert, which made it the most elegant and perfect store opening ever held which did not take place in a store. People still talk about the best party of the Haute Couture season, and this describes Tory Burch.
She is clearly a woman who listens. Her Paris party planners gave her perfect advice and she went with it. The same seems to hold truth when you look at her collections. Nothing is brilliant but every show is ticking off the right boxes. Sensible daywear, a smart and educated theme, luxurious eveningwear and many identifiable pieces like easy flats. The wardrobe of a working mum just like Tory is the mother of three kids. Why do we even mention her here? This is a billion dollar business by now and Burch has opened in Munich and is ready to take on Germany. Women love her clothes as they are approachable, well made and they buy into the Tory lifestyle which in this case stands for sophisticated New York Hampton’s chic for everyone.
This article first appeared in Achtung No. 31