OK, first the disclosure. I’m a Coach fan. Have been for what feels like ages but is actually precisely one year and five months. That was when I first woke up and glanced at the previous evening’s SS16 show pictures.
Since then, I’ve not had any quite so big “wow” moments for the other collections Stuart levers has sent out. But that’s mainly because they’ve all been variations on the same theme and evolutions of that same SS16 look.
Is that a criticism? Not at all. When you’ve got a winning look, it pays to stick with it, as long as it keeps you on the winners’ podium. And it certainly seems to be doing that with Coach continuing to bounce back from a few years when it just couldn’t get it right.
Not that Stuart Vevers and the brand necessarily seemed like a marriage made in heaven on paper, especially as he succeeded the very different Reed Krakoff. But the Brit and the all-American brand do seem to be proof of the idea that opposites attract.
What did this unlikely pairing give us for AW17? More of the same, plus some always-welcome newness and some everyday dressing solutions that will take Coach customers from the chilly outdoors into a boho- and vintage-influenced indoors in style. Oh, and there were some cool bags too (that’s bags that are cool by the way, not bags in which to keep your sandwiches chilled).
So what did we get? Shearling and lots of it for a start. The natural-toned raw-edge jackets and coats (some complete with eagle or flower motifs) will keep even the chilliest among us warm come next winter, as will the teddy bear jackets and oversized-but-cropped flight jackets (looking best in purple tones).
Alternatives for staying snug included some surprising puffas, with floral prints that wouldn’t look out of place on granny’s curtains or some placement motifs that mixed dark and light themes (flowers, skulls, big cats). And those motifs also looked strong on a series of crisp melton coats with oversized fur collars. They could almost have looked smart if not for being covered in quirky patches.
There were the pieces we’ve come to expect from Coach too, of course. The bombers and bikers with plenty of details like understated fringes and studs.
But it was the dresses that stood out more. Vevers has always had a thing for dresses with a vintage feel and there were plenty on offer this time, a little longer than usual with a small-town 1930s edge. In checks and florals they were cut slim but-body-skimming with the appeal being all in the detail. Subtle frills, rows of star edging the hems, rouleax ties, braid edging, and sweet little puffed sleeves.
But also key were the prints. From the collection’s dominant florals to blanket checks, ‘ghost rider’ galloping horses, berries, ducks, cartoon owls, and eagles. Combined with the collection’s retro-style knits (think the kind of knits they used to create in the 30s but with off-beat patterning and Lurex edges) they added a traditional twist to the collection.
The knits were meant to be seen up close and that could definitely go for the bags too. On the runway, at least, it was all about the mini, micro and so-small-you-hardly-see-it bag.
Traditional frame bags came in pastels with tan, or black with almost-purple brown while flattened frame bags had long chain cross-body straps and an array of pattern stories (berries, ducks, American cars, flowers, bags trimmed with tassels). And tiny coin purses also came on cross-body chains.
It was a masterclass in how to add interest to the small leather goods category that can so often seem like an afterthought in the average high-end accessories line-up. They should sell and sell. Coach should have forgotten the musical soundtrack and sent each one out with a ‘kaching’ sound instead.