To call the Coach SS17 presentation yesterday a car crash of a show isn’t actually a criticism. In fact, the giant set that featured beaten up American classic cars piled on top of each other, car crash style, simply added to the collection’s overall theme.
And that was? Well, 50s Americana of course. But this wasn’t a slavish James-Dean-meets-Buddy Holly-by-way-of-Grease reproduction. It was pure Stuart Vevers.
The designer knows his favourite pieces (the biker vests, the bomber/varsity jackets, the jeans, the boots, the prairie floral dresses, the very un-spring-like shearling coats) but always manages to inject that much-needed newness into each season.
So what does his his girl gang get for SS17 that’s new? Fringes, studs, appliqué, patches and charms. None of that sounds new you say. Well, we all know that in fashion, (almost) nothing is new. It all depends on how good you are at reinterpreting it and Vevers is very good.
So the new season’s biker vets come decorated with appliqué flowers and the season’s favourite rounded studs, as do many of the chunky creeper soled boots and shoe boots (love them in metallic leather). And the key accessory is a bracelet with giant padlock ‘charm’.
Leather rider jackets are trimmed with fringing and decorated with metal hearts and randomly-placed Elvis patches (working well with oversized rockabilly belt buckles), bits of lace or shearling on the pockets. Meanwhile deep-cuffed jeans come scatter with chains and star studs. And Elvis also figures on a short-sleeved sweatshirt, a basic that’s far from basic.
So what’s special about those fringes? They’re far from basic too. Think more Azzedine Alaïa’s flirtation with fringes back in the 80s than classic Western style. That means a belt with a skirt-length trailing fringe that’s trimmed with tiny studs, a waistcoat, its body completely covered with a double layer of studded fringe, or a khaki military jacket with fringe-decorated pockets and sleeves.
All of which could make this collection seem a little too hard-edged for some. But there’s plenty to satisfy the softer side of the Coach customer and offer choice to a woman who fights shy of fashion that’s over-themed. Sheer dresses in shadowy floral prints are edged with seemingly hand-sewn frills and that staple of school dressmaking classes, ric rac braid.
Leather waistcoats are fastened with ribbon, a detail that also featured on sweet blouses and dresses. Varsity jackets come with embroidered florals or rose prints (looking strongest in camo colourways) and a basic sweat tee is feminised with that ribbon tie plus a lace bib front and lace patch pockets. One biker jacket even comes in strips of prairie florals and lace, continuing an idea Vevers has used successfully before.
Perhaps the best marriage of the hard-soft themes in this show are the finale pieces, covetable sheer floral dresses with dropped waistline and a band of long studded fringing that adds to the desirability of the pieces as well as, most likely, to the eventual retail price.
Oh, and there are bags aplenty too. Yes, I know Coach is primarily a bag company but this season’s mini bags are hard to spot in among the sea of leather, sheers and studs. Not that they’ll be hard to spot on-shelf. In a palette that takes in regulation black, plus pink, green, white, wine and sage, they come with enough of the collection’s fringes, studs and patches as well as trailing charms and almost-ironic ‘ladylike’ chain handles to guarantee that all-important newness that gets them moving off those shelves.