Just as guests (which also included actresses Lucy Liu and Julianne Moore) stopped to admire the art pieces situated throughout the venue’s galleries, a hush fell over as Alice Smith sauntered onto the runway to kick off the collection’s preview.
The Grammy-nominated soul singer opened and closed the show with a unique rendition of Lesley Gore’s 1963 anthem “You Don’t Own Me,” produced and rearranged by Q-Tip. The jazzy version juices up the original with even more gusto, as Smith’s angst-filled vocals delivered a sonic punch to misogyny.
“When [Tory Burch’s team] told me about the song, I tried to see how I could make it more of my own since I like to do covers,” Smith tells Billboard following the show. “I wanted it to be more of a tantrum, really. The speed of the chorus is more urgent [compared to the original] which is laid out nice and pretty.”
Along with her fashion line, Burch’s drive for female equality is the focal point of the Tory Burch Foundation. Founded in 2009, it creates “programs and initiatives that invest in the success and sustainability of women-owned small businesses.”
“[Tory Burch’s] theme of this show, what she's about as a designer and with her foundation is female empowerment,” Smith continues. “That's what the original song was about lyrically, and you can certainly feel that now.”
That feeling of empowerment was near-tangible on the runway, as the models, who sported minimal makeup and pulled-back hair with twists that accentuated their bold brows, walked with purpose.
There was a sense of tenacity woven throughout the collection itself, as it balanced the masculine lines (structured blazers, equestrian-style boots) with feminine color palettes (pops of creamsicle, bubblegum-pink, aquamarine and party-ready sequins).
Burch drew inspiration from New York City-born artist Francesca DiMattio’s vibrant and cascading sculptures, which were dotted throughout the venue. “Her work ‘imbues the decorative with strength and power.’ … DiMattio challenges the traditional norms of femininity,” the designer’s runway notes explain.
“I remembered from studying art history how the work of Judith Leyster, one of the great Dutch Masters, was misattributed after her death simply because she was a woman. It’s a struggle that women artists have faced throughout history and still do to this day.”
The new collection -- which also experimented with delicate florals on sharp suits and paired billowing garden dresses with slouchy boots -- embodied the all-American woman. From the music to the design, it represented the various dimensions that come with that: mystery, sex appeal, passion, cleverness, and overall confidence.
“My album is about the mystery of creation, both of life and creativity,” Smith, who released her third LP Mystery last October, says. “There's a mystery about how you can create a space essentially for something to happen. That's what art is: it comes from something else. It's not necessarily from you, you're more of a vessel.
View the Tory Burch Fall/Winter 2020 runway show in its entirety right here.