Tory Burch — ‘The Upper East Side Bitches’ Muse’

Tory Burch

Gentle reader,

So, the other day I made it down the street to check out Tory Burch’s new Rodeo Drive flagship that has been under construction for about eighty years.  The scaffolding had finally come down and, as I walked to my car in the suddenly dark L.A. evening, the shop appeared a glittering little jewel amongst the luxury retail behemoths that line The Drive.  It looked a bit like Christmas came early in one teeny spot.

Before you get the idea that I’m gushing, I should probably mention that I’m not a big Tory Burch fan.  None of my clients wear it and I’m not at all familiar with the merchandise up close, though I’ve always assumed that it’s like a more expensive J. Crew.  Much like Ralph Lifshitz changed his name to Lauren and began marketing a polo-playing, upper-crusty lifestyle to Macy’s habitués, Burch’s seems to be a brand engineered to emulate the twinset-and-pearls types who wear sensible shoes and an Alice band, but in brighter colors.  My friend Paul put it this way: “She is the muse of all the bitches on the Upper East Side and those who aspire to be bitches on the Upper East Side.”

Tory Burch Rodeo DriveThe boutique itself is like a little jewel box, literally.  I happened to pop by at the same time as a couple of the Prada guys and we all had to make sure we were far enough apart that we didn’t knock anything over while weaving carefully around the little glass tables and shelves stocked with shoes and handbags.  It reminded me of the inside of Caffe Florian on the Piazza San Marco — where I’ve sat when I couldn’t score an outside table — which was lined with gorgeous fading frescoes protected by glass.  Except that everything was bright and shiny and new in the Tory Burch shop, so I guess the only unifying factors were that it is really fucking cramped and there is glass over everything.

Just when I started to wonder if I’d made a mistake about whether Tory Burch made clothing because there were only shoes and bags littering the displays, a smiling lady asked if I’d like to go upstairs to the ready-to-wear floor.  I was glad to hear this because I wasn’t really feeling the frumpy shoes and was sorry for them spending all this time and money crafting this exquisite home for them.  The clothes upstairs were an improvement, in mostly blush, ivory and black.  Some of the bling was successful and some wasn’t, particularly when the sequins were peeling off the fabric after the shop had only been open for two days.  I was charmed by an old-fashioned print of tiny sparrows on vanilla silk crepe de chine and saw a few other lovely pieces, as well.  I suppose they could be combined with edgier things to make a less matronly impression.  Mostly, though, I think I’ll continue to ignore the brand unless someone tells me that she wants to dress like Selma Blair’s character in Legally Blonde.

Sorry, Tory Burch.  I tried.

Much love,

xxJames

James Tuttle

Comments: 7

  • helenbeadleston November 14, 20139:23 am

    Spot on! Had a good giggle reading this one Tuttle!

  • HeathyrWolfe November 14, 20132:59 pm

    Brilliant and very accurate. When I was managing about 12 interns from University Kansas they were all obsessed with Tory Burch. My immediate (inward of course, must stay classy) reaction was akin to gagging. It’s like a high end Old Navy in my eyes. However, the dedication is there. My question is simply, why? Glad I’m not the only one.

  • JamesTuttle November 20, 20131:16 am

    HeathyrWolfe It’s pretty nuts, the following she’s garnered.  But I must admit, a very adept businesswoman she is and quite good at creating a covetable image even though it’s not one we covet.

  • JamesTuttle November 20, 20131:16 am

    helenbeadleston Thanks Helen!!

  • HeathyrWolfe November 26, 201312:23 pm

    Agreed. Say what you will ( or I will) about monogrammed culture but companies like Tory and LV know how to really make the luxury market. It is impressive hpw they run business.

  • HeathyrWolfe December 8, 20131:37 am

    JamesTuttle HeathyrWolfe You aren’t kidding James.
    I respect her first and foremost as an amazing businesswoman and entrepreneur. I can only hope I have a modicum of her success in my own ventures. Just not my style is all. As I said to my friend, ‘I’m more of a MCQueen/Gautier couture bitch’.

  • Kike January 5, 20145:17 pm

    First time i read your articles….love what a bitch you are and couldn’t agree more on your point of view about TB really don’t get allá the fuss about her brand and her ugly flats,i guess monograms are better than inovation.

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