Black Mountain College in North Carolina was an experimental school that was ideologically organised around John Dewey’s principles of holistic learning and the study of art. Its faculty and students included Walter Gropius, Cy Twombly, Robert Rauschenberg, Merce Cunningham, John Cage, Buckminster Fuller, and Willem and Elaine de Kooning.
Tory Burch’s Fall/Winter 2019 collection is inspired by the legacy of Black Mountain College, “known for its unconventional approach to education and for shaping the trajectory art in America,” says the designer. “This season is a mix-match of revamped classics: floral prints, graphic stripes, menswear materials and romantic silhouettes. There’s a modern eccentricity to raw fringe, exaggerated ruffles, knife pleats, cut-glass jewellery, deconstructed bags and sharp boots.”
The collection reflects an effortless modernity with uncomplicated, relaxed silhouettes. Polished pieces – tailored trousers, structured loden coats, and classic blazers – balance billowy shapes. There is a refined, magpie approach to layering: sporty parkas draped over evening gowns, a striped slip under a gauzy shirt dress. Rooted in muted neutrals – crisp white, black and the brand’s signature navy – the collection is warmed up with earthy, autumnal hues of umber brown, deep red and cayenne. Pops of vibrant colour – bright yellow and green – inject energy. Bold stripes, vivid paisleys and feminine florals play off one another to unexpected effect. A collage print blends archival photography and whimsical illustration.
Herringbones and checks are coolly classic, while crochet patches convey an understated nostalgia. Fluid ruffles and a print-on-pleat technique bring movement and dimension. Sequins and square-shaped paillettes add a rich lustre. Deliberately unfinished embroideries are raw and imperfect, nodding to the technical artistry of Anni Albers.
The textural mix carries through to accessories. Loafers – a mélange of velvet, leather, and brass hardware – have a bookish sophistication, while high-shine Mary Janes bring a retro, girlish allure. Variations on the Lee handbag – including a new deconstructed version – are key. Bold glass crystal earrings and pull-on boots channel an eighties vibe.