Milan has swept past me and we’re into Paris. Finally, a breather of a day to think about a veritable themes that are emerging from the shows thus far. I’ve typed “Prairie” multiple times this past few weeks in reference to shows, without really investigating what it means other than my own vague memories of scenery in Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman or House on the Prairie. It’s of course an ecosystem that really only exists in certain parts of the world, mainly North America, rooted by temperate tall grass and controlled by a particular climate. The prairie vibes at Coach also felt rooted. You sensed a certain kind of authenticity when these girls with their patchwork florals and leathers walked out onto the High Line with low cut cowboy boots and bags visible through the planted grasses and shrubbery. This is yet another facet of Americana – most notably depicted by Terrence Malick – refracted and reinterpreted by Stuart Vevers. Like the mirrored runway, which gave a trippy effect to this indoor fauna-filled catwalk, this was no straightforward pastiche of prairie nor was the theme heavy handedly flung at you.
You couldn’t help but think of Vevers’ mates and former colleagues Katie Hillier and Luella Bartley and their spirit that they imbued in their Marc by Marc Jacobs collections or going further back, Luella’s own eponymous line. It’s perhaps that shared English lens which enables Vevers to see things like ditzy florals in a different way. They were panelled into mini dresses alongside brushstroke prints. Coats had childlike appliqué scenes of desert skies on the back. These clothes fell in line with Coach’s repositioning not just as an accessories brand but one with a youth-fuelled fashion identity too. Of course, the patchwork leather jackets and biker waistcoats, hardy bowling bags and mixed floral low cut cowboy boots were there to stake Coach’s claim as America’s one true leather house, which will be celebrating its 75th anniversary next year. That history doesn’t feel like it’s weighing down on Vevers though, as these deftly put together ensembles walked along the former railway track of the High Line. It was the kind of palatable prairie that felt right on the money.