The speed and scale of Tory Burch's success suggest that she has hot-wired her business into the hopes and dreams of millions of women. Dressing up to look smart for the real world doesn't quite cut it. There has to be more—some subliminally potent appeal to desire. Maybe Tory gave away the game today when she cited Romy Schneider in the 1969 French movie La Piscine as an influence on her collection. Romy rivals Audrey Hepburn in the fashion-icon stakes, but she was always a chillier, more melancholic proposition. In La Piscine, she played tortuous mind games with Alain Delon, who'd been her lover a few years earlier. Tory scarcely needed reminding of the unholy sexual sparks generated by the Schneider-Delon union. How could that not be the kind of fantasy that might dog the dreams of a sophisticated young American Europhile? How would it be possible not to infuse the clothes she designed in later life with that same sense of erotic possibility? And maybe, just maybe, the same notion might occur to a woman on a Saturday-morning shopping trip as her eyes fell upon a precisely tailored little linen suit with a jeweled collar, or a flowing floral-print silk smock, simultaneously decorous and somehow suggestive of Schneider en route to a sun-drenched, sin-filled Riviera rendezvous with Delon.

Ah yes, the power of suggestion. Ridiculous but irresistible. Tory courted it with a catwalk of bright piscine blue, a line of cypress trees standing sentinel, and with clothes whose trimness and brevity evoked the late sixties. A long skirt paired with an open-backed top had a tense elegance. A sundress in a faded mosaic print, a crocheted shift, and a suit in white latticework were clean, confident outfits for Americans reinventing themselves abroad. Who wouldn't want that second chance? Ms. Burch, meet Mr. Ripley.