The Prep School Trifecta: Tommy Hilfiger, Tory Burch and Coach
02.17.16

Don’t worry we’re going to talk about horses in a second. But first!

When you sell clothes and accessories in the way that big name commercial brands on the NYFW ticket are expected (read: to the masses, to the malls, to the buyers and fashion editors) there must be a very real pressure to please everyone.

There has to be Instagram appeal since that is how the younger customer shops. There has to be hanger appear, because that’s how the buyer shops. There has to be something special about the collection, because editors considering advertisers don’t want to compromise their pages, and there has to be an element of story-telling, because otherwise we writers end up BSing circles around pleats.

It must be hard. I couldn’t do it. “Here, I made you an avocado instead,” is what I would say.

But today, three New York heritage brands got it right.

Tommy Hilfiger rowed around a nautical theme. Navy and white with red and gold accents is a time-honored tradition, and very “Tommy,” but hardly new. What you don’t see every day, however, is the maritime concept for fall/winter. In fact, amid a cold front and shearling coats, the thought of saltwater sounds refreshing. It also wasn’t too literal. (Just enough to be fun.) The tiara tip to Saint Laurent will throw you off, and the merit-ribbon patches were actually cute because of nerdy Gucci. You could argue that the very pretty floral dresses (also not wintry) were a far cry from practical — but isn’t that exactly why we’ve been crying? Too much wearability, too little fantasy. Well here you go: for the first time in a long time, the seasick and the sea-savvy will be in the same boat.

Colors were blocked at Tory Burch by way of blown up argyles and magnified stripes. Absolutely excellent was the shimmering suit with billowing sleeves, and it was that plus the pussy bows, School House Rock styling and smatterings of libertine that made the white breeches with brown buttons feel a little less literal.

Fun fact: in the horse show world, you only wear white breeches for what’s called a “Classic,” which is, in the easiest way to describe, a riding competition where you can win money. To wear them is kind of a badge of honor, but given the way Tory’s creative mind is moving (don’t worry, her collections will always remain classic, as well as pay tribute to the prep) I’d assume she intends for you to wear them whenever you so choose. Just mind the city grime. Or don’t; in comparison to grass stains, grime is nothing.

Finally, though Coach seems to have changed its name to Coach 1941, the decade it channeled bounced between the 50s, 60s and 70s — which I guess means we should stop trying to put timestamps on collections. (Never!!!!!) Great coats like those at Coach tend to end of up being timeless…or at the very least, you know that they’ll eventually come back around. Like Tommy (and even Tory) there was a bit of that Gucci weirdo — only in this version of the dream, she’s varsity captain.

One check “yes” to all of these: great on a model, great on a hanger, easy to write about, easy to caption.

Photographs via Vogue Runway and NowFashion.com; collage by Emily Zirimis.

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