#SuzyNYFW: Gabriela Hearst and Tory Burch – Moving Away From Their Comfort Zones
Gabriela Hearst stood beside a mood board devoted to Maya Plisetskaya, who danced with the Bolshoi Ballet for 50 years, retiring at the age of 65. The Uruguayan American-based designer explained why she found the ballerina, who only died in 2015, so compelling.
“Her life was extraordinary in the sense that she existed as a result of her stamina and resistance,” said Hearst, as she recounted the story of intense bravery during Russia in the Gulag-era.
But what did this courageous artist have to do with the Gabriela Hearst collection that included so many references to the designer’s homeland, from the Merino wool that she works into such fine and sumptuous pieces, to the Uruguayan coins used to make a dashing belt?
The answer is Gabriela’s desire to draw inspiration from female power.
“That is the common denominator in things that motivate me – finding those strong references about people who strive with adversity, they have resilience, and they have grace. Those are the three elements,” the designer said.
Add a homage to her country and her horses – as well, of course, to her mother – and the collection is explained.
Its essence is elevated sportswear presented as anything from a double-faced cashmere coat to a giant, hand-woven neon-coloured plaid scarf.
The long, lean shapes suggested the impact of her own form, plus her personal taste for neutral shades.
But colours, like sugar-pink laced with scarlet on a burgundy sweater, suggested that the designer is marching fearlessly away from her personal comfort zone. That is surely why LVMH has invested in her company to push her ahead.
Tory Burch created her image as an ‘uptown girl’ from trim personal clothing and historic upper East Side venues.
For this autumn/winter 2019 collection, she took a different perspective in many ways: firstly, a location in the modern Seaport area, the audience looking through vast glass windows over to Brooklyn on one side and Wall Street the other.
Then the imaginary venue: Black Mountain College, educational home of the unconventional. Tory cited art figures such as Robert Rauschenberg and Cy Twombly and described the school as a breeding place of the avant-garde since the Thirties.
The effect on the collection was powerful, without suggesting that Tory had been dragged away from her comfort zone. Instead, the clothes were just a little bit off key: coats slimmer, longer and in unexpected shades of olive green with saffron collars, or sweaters plain and beige with checked mannish trousers, and a choirboy frill around the neck.
Almost everything could be rated as “Tory with a twist”, as though the designer had challenged herself. Talking about the show, she revealed that the music for the trouser exit was from the Fifties when women started to wear pants.
The result was a fine show and proof that women designers can be very skilled at moving forward without breaking the codes which the label stands for.