“I see the world in color,” Tory Burch declares in her first publishing pursuit, the aptly named Tory Burch: In Color. Over 240 pages of hypnotic imagery and personal anecdotes, the New York-based designer paints a vivid picture of a small fashion label’s transformation into a multi-billion-dollar business.
Tory Burch launched her namesake brand just over a decade ago, reviving ’60s Palm Springs with her retro American aesthetic. Her success was instantaneous – her first shop nearly sold out the day it opened – and the designer toyed with the idea of penning a book about entrepreneurship. But while she mulled over the details, Lean In, Girl Boss and their precursors climbed bestseller lists as they flooded the market. Burch turned her attention instead to the brand’s blog, Tory Daily, a virtual mood board of style, travel and culture. It became the jumping-off point for Tory Burch: In Color.
With a traditional chapter book in mind, Burch and her team began gathering potential content. “It was really organic,” she explains. “We put together pictures that we loved and created lists of poetry, artists we admire – things just started taking shape from there.” One afternoon, in an effort to organize their thoughts and an overwhelming stack of material, they spread the images out on the floor. Hundreds of photos tiled the room. Someone proposed sorting everything by color and from there, “it all came together so naturally,” says Burch.
She writes, “This book is a kaleidoscope of my greatest influences and experiences, told through images and stories of the people, places, things and ideas that inspire me.” Stripes on the rainbow represent moments in time, both past and present. In the context of Burch’s scrapbook-like pages, each hue takes on another dimension.
Orange plays a particularly prominent role. As a child, the designer pleaded with her mother to let her paint her bedroom a bright mandarin hue, but the more conservative Mrs. Burch wouldn’t budge. Decades later, there was a moment of triumph when the original Tory Burch boutique opened on New York City’s Elizabeth Street: colossal orange lacquer doors greeted her first customers. A glass jar of vibrant California apricots sits on her cluttered desk to this day, reminding her of “David Hicks’s graphic interiors and the cover of [her] favorite album, Harvest, by Neil Young.
Hues from blue and black to gold each tell their own distinctive tale: a scarlet runner tracing the stairs of her childhood home; a saffron Pucci swimsuit that appears in glamorous poolside shots of her mother from the ’70s. Every swatch was cataloged and stored away until Burch would need it.
Spring/summer 2015 is one particularly impressive example of her archive of memories being put to use. Conceptualized as “raw and refined,” the collection appears segmented into blocks of color, much the way the book is. A palette of brown and white gives way to metallic details and pops of mustard, crimson and navy. The designer says inspiration came from the decade artist Françoise Gilot spent with Picasso in the seaside town of Vallauris, France. After reading Tory Burch: In Color, it’s hard not to also see references to her mother’s blue and white china, or the lush, green view from the top of Machu Picchu, which Burch hiked with her sons. But that was always the designer’s intention. “I hope the book sheds light on the way I see, work and live in color,” Burch says. “It all stems from the way my parents raised me and my brothers: to embrace differences in people and ideas, and to be open and adventurous.”
– MacKenzie Lewis Kassab