Twist The Lady Code. Tory Burch AW23

For a couple of seasons now, Tory Burch is delivering some of the most convincing collections in New York. For autumn-winter 2023, Burch is toying with the notion of perfection. “I wanted to challenge the concept of traditional femininity and beauty and twist it,” she said. Why? “I don’t think women want rules anymore.” Burch herself would seem to be chafing against them. Since the pandemic, she’s been talking up Claire McCardell, the American sportswear pioneer who gave women the popover dress 75 years ago, and channeling the freedom of her own early years in the New York of the 1990s with stretchy mix-and-match layers. She was tapping into similar instincts here with sweaters that featured pre-scrunched sleeves and power mesh dresses with built-in padding to accentuate the hips – useful wardrobe shortcuts stripped of old-fashioned proprieties. It’s hard to imagine those padded hips in a Tory Burch collection of five years ago, but even as she’s become more daring, she’s doubled-down on practicality. The building blocks of this collection would look familiar to McCardell. The outerwear in particular was strong; a navy peacoat with a brown shearling collar and a wool tweed coat with what looked like more of that padding at the hips were two of the stars. For evening, Burch’s proposal was to expose the thing that women traditionally hide – their shapewear. This idea worked insofar that the power mesh and satin camisoles were modeled on mid-century styles, when indeed those unmentionables were kept firmly under wraps. Women today, of course, expose their shapewear every time they leave the house in a job bra and performance leggings. But with their stitched floral appliqués and undone hooks and eyes they did prove Burch’s point: that women are perfectly imperfect and vulnerability can be their strength.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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