battle of the burches

Judge on Burch Trial: ‘Are the Burches WASPs?’

Tory and Chris Burch, in happier days.
Tory and Chris Burch, in happier days. Photo: Chris Weeks/WireImage

The best part about messy fashion lawsuits is, by far, that non-fashion people — i.e. paunchy, middle-aged male litigators and judges — are forced to contend with the finer points of shoe color and red-carpet outfits. In turn, fashion people get forced out of the soft embrace of their coddling, hypersensitive publicists, and they let their freak flags fly. But, without a doubt, the best part about this Burch-versus-Burch lawsuit extravaganza, which gained steam with Tory filing counterclaims yesterday, is a dark horse third party: presiding Judge Leo Strine of Delaware, who deemed the case “a drunken WASP fest” before wondering, “Are they WASPs? Are the Burches WASPs? Do we know?”

Judge Strine made his comedic prowess known at a scheduling conference last Thursday. The goal of the meeting was to determine a timeline for the case’s future, but instead, Strine hijacked the discussion with a series of rambling monologues, which were far more interesting anyway. WWD provides us with some choice quotes, but we’ve decided to mix it up a bit and present them as a quiz. Guess which one of the following quotes are his and which ones we’ve made up. Your prize: the smugness of understanding WASP culture.

1. On preppy clothing:

A. “For some reason, I get all the preppy clothier cases, because I’ve had J.Crew. I’ve had — I think because I’m culturally steeped in it since I was 9 years old and learned what was hard for a kid from Baltimore, duck shoes? What’s a duck shoe? You know, and then you see all these freaks wearing this really ugly — I like L.L. Bean, but those duck shoes are ugly. I mean, there’s no way around it.”

B. “I don’t know why people always saddle me with these preppy companies. I don’t even like boats, and I don’t like those shoes you wear on boats either. What are those, boat shoes? Well they look like boats, that’s for sure. They are ugly. I’m originally from Baltimore, so for me to think they’re ugly says a lot. There are a lot of boats in Baltimore.”

2. On how he’s preparing for the case:

A. “I’ve got to start brushing up on my Fitzgerald. When’s that Gatsby movie coming out? Whatever — better to read the books anyway. Do you think Chris Burch is more of a Gatsby or a — what’s the narrator’s name, Nick or something? Is he a tragic figure? Or how about Tory as Daisy — can we draw some literary comparisons here? The WASPs love a Fitzgerald reference. Wait, are the Burches actually WASPs? How WASPy are they?”

B. I’ve been deep in it, in an autumnal Cheever phase. I’ve been reading all kinds of Cheever. I’ll have to just keep that up … I think if you read Cheever, go see the new Virginia Woolf revival and watch ‘Mad Men.’ We’ll be all geared up and in the mood for this sort of drunken WASP fest. Are they WASPs? Are the Burches WASPs? Do we know?”

3. On Chris being “not Jewish,” and the slippery definition of a WASP:

A. “Not being Jewish doesn’t mean you’re a WASP, not at all. WASPs are very choosy about the company they keep. It takes much more than a family Labrador and, you know, a beat-up Volvo and a closetful of itchy old sweaters. Even if you go whole hog with the duck shoes. There’s a big difference between being preppy and being a WASP. We’ll have to explore that more.”

B. “But not Jewish doesn’t make you a WASP because it could make you an equally excluded faith like Catholic, right? I mean, that’s not a WASP. You know, a WASP is a WASP. So you know — I think you’re going to have to have interrogatories about who’s a WASP. And I’ll certainly be attacked as anti-WASP, probably, and then I love all WASPs.”

4. More on WASPs and those who understand them:

A. “I’m bringing actually Rodman Ward Jr. in as my expert because I always used to tell Rod that he actually had a lineage chart in his basement which had all of the DuPont family trees on it. It was like some people have war rooms. He had that to determine how they were actually related to the DuPont family. So I think we might be able to have some unique experts in Delaware.”

B. “I’ll have to consult Sheffield Wadsworth Jr. on this, my go-to WASP source. He’s got some Mayflower lineage in him, or maybe it was Roosevelt … I’m sure he’s got some old family tree on parchment paper or something in his basement to prove it, like how some people keep financial records. Because for WASPs, your ancestry’s way more important than money. On that note, maybe these Burches aren’t WASPs after all. Anyway, we’ll call Shef in.”

Judge Strine’s actual quotes: 1A, 2B, 3B, 4A.

Tory Burch Finally Got Around to Countersuing Chris Burch
Chris Burch Sues Tory Burch 

Judge on Burch Trial: ‘Are the Burches WASPs?’