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Books: Success without a story on Tory agenda


In Color, Tory Burch.

In Color, Tory Burch.

In Color, Tory Burch.

To live like the fashion designer Tory Burch, as you'll learn from her coffee-table book In Color (yes, the US spelling), you need adorable twin sons, as well as a recipe for a summery screwdriver made with blood orange juice.

Inside your house, the rooms should be off-white, because regular white is gauche. You must have opinions about "export china," which is how you should refer to your blue-and-white plates from Turkey. You should be friends with model-humanitarians such as Liya Kebede. And you can eat guacamole, but only if it has 11 ingredients in it, including, of course, "cilantro branches".

Since starting her eponymous company in 2004, Burch has emerged as a shrewd designer and businesswoman -her company had $800m in revenue in 2013. She has a knack for launching trends, such as the famous $195 Reva flats, which sold 300,000 pairs in the company's first year. But her most valuable skill, borrowed from Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren before her, is the ability to sell her perfect American life through the dresses, sunglasses, and bags she creates.

Now Burch has released a self-aggrandising volume about branding. Dressed up as a hardcover art book, In Color is split into 11 chapters, each themed as one of the designer's favourite colours. Typically, when a powerful executive decides to publish, the resulting tome brims with management advice and tales of disruption, hard work, and Big Ideas. In Color has none of that - the book is almost hilariously devoid of words.

Crafted with the editorial director of her company, Nandini D'Souza Wolfe, Burch's creation reminds readers that she's successful without offering any real insight as to how or why.

Burch finally alludes to reality about halfway through the book, in a two-page section titled, simply, "Work-Life Balance." She admits it's "one of the biggest topics of discussion" in her office. But rather than comment on the subject herself, Burch sidesteps the issue by publishing interviews with other important women.

Perhaps those buying In Color don't care about Burch the powerful businesswoman, who once hired Google's Eric Schmidt to lecture her staff about scale. They care about the woman with the tasteful homes, adorable children, and complicated guacamole. As Vogue editor Anna Wintour explains in the foreword, Burch's brand was an almost immediate success. "And why not?" Wintour asks. "Who wouldn't want to be Tory Burch?"

Indo Business