Revving up the Coach Control

Fashion week done. 140 shows and presentations (not including appointments) done. Time to breathe, digest and debrief. The one thing that I’ve been thinking a lot about over the course of the month is this idea of control. How much of it do creative directors have. How do they exercise it. And if a great deal of control is ceded to said creative directors, does that make for more fruitful collections.

Stuart Vevers at Coach is one of those partnerships that is yielding results after a three year gestating period of resetting and remoulding this American stalwart brand. Profits are up and that passing over of creative control to Vevers is reaping rewards. But now it’s time to rev things up. Quite literally, in amongst a set of piled up greaser cars, yet another one of Vevers’ girl gangs. One that perhaps is his most extreme yet at Coach.

It’s interesting that in amongst Vevers’ like-minded, similar-generation of cohorts including longtime stylist Katie Grand, Luella Bartley and Katie Hillier all have longtime fascinations with this idea of girlhood, with wildly different results. It’s only at Coach though, that Vevers seems to have taken this idea and fled with it, imagining and re-imagining aspects of Americana until it becomes something else.

To take the latest SS17 collection as an example, teenage fandom of Elvis Presley doesn’t mean 1950s poodle skirts and letterman cardis. You could see more of a direct link with the photographs of Karlheinz Weinberger of rockabilly fans in Switzerland, laden with hammered hardware and Elvis memorabilia. Elvis’ face may have been collaged onto rocker tees but they were paired with fringed leather, studded denim, bikers and vests signed off with Bobcat Rebels insignia. Underneath it all were sheer floral slips and baby doll dresses, embroidered and crocheted with ric-rack trim and roses. They looked like something Courtney Love – who happened to be in the audience for the show – might have worn in the nineties. Coach’s signature leather was rendered into fringed kilt skirts and patched up with Liberty florals to give a different spin to the Coach outerwear, which has become something of a hit category for the brand. The distinction between the folkloric, rock ‘n’ roll, and grunge are blurred so that you can’t pin the girl to one particular era. That genre mixing is best summed up in the shoes – moccasin, creeper and bovver boot – all rolled into one stomping hybrid. Chains, studs and grommets toughen up the plastic flowers that adorn the Dinky bags swinging from their hands.

And so as you pick your way through this rich mix, it’s hard not to draw comparisons with the girl gangs that labels like Luella or the now-consolidated Marc by Marc Jacobs exemplified. Coach’s ready to wear, backed by its leather goods empire, now fills that much-missed gap – that tangible and covetable kawaii and girlie but not saccharine intersection between contemporary and luxury fashion – that gets the hearts of girls and the forever teen women racing. Vevers being given the freedom to push the Coach ready to wear agenda to enable say sheer slips, studded cats and leather fringed kilts is a boon to this forever teen.

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All Lit Up

>> Seeing as I’ve been away for so long, I’m now hell bent on colouring in this homepage to the max.  If Port Eliot was the weekend-length dose of a creative ideas haven, then God’s Own Junkyard in Walthamstow is the convenient neighbourhood (well, within a ten mile vicinity of my house) happy place, where you can’t help but reverberate off of good vibes in amongst the neon light installations of artist Chris Bracey.  Where else to take the similarly bright neon components of Swatch’s latest POP collection as I was tasked to create a set of imagery to match up with a “watch that POPS!” with a pop-out watch face.  Alongside a group of talented digi creators, we all attempted our own spin on our favoured POP watch.  Naturally I veered towards the hues that dominate a segment in my wardrobe.   

Neon watch, neon outfit components, neon lights… it’s almost like a not-so-clever lightbulb has switched on inside my nugget-sized noggin.  Still, any excuse to head up to Bracey’s lit-up land is fine by me, especially as we arrived for the shoot saw the lights get switched on in the morning.  If you’re in London, do go and bask away. 

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0E5A0972Wearing DI$COUNT studded biker jacket, Molly Goddard dress, Christopher Kane trainers and my own shoes designed with Six London with Swatch Popover neon Watch and Beads

Desperately Seeking Summer

Hello, is that summer on the line?  Are you on your way or just taking your good sweet time, hidden behind foreboding clouds and laughing skies?

I know it’s somehow ingrained within British DNA to mandatorily talk about the weather come rain or shine but we’re nearing July and our patience is really beginning to wear thin now.  My patently overgrown (and therefore soon to be overhauled) garden has been loving the showers but sad face me below has clearly not.  This compounded with Brexit blues, which I won’t dwell on until something… nay, anything concrete emerges (apparently that will take some years so don’t hold me to that thought).  Rain-drenched Union jacks and England footie flags up and down the country are blowing limply in the wind.

There’s a silver lining somewhere.  If I find it in amongst the political rubble, I’ll be sure to let you know.  In the meantime, I’m keeping things simple.  Or simple in my head.  I’m chucking a vaguely wintry/early spring coat or jacket over a summer dress.  Two layers, no more and definitely no less if I’m to keep warm and some sort of no-nonsense sanity.  The top layers come courtesy of Coach pre-fall, which is beginning to drip into stores and somehow making seasonal sense in this confused climate.  The bottom layers are light airy things I’ve been accumulating in the hope that days of bare arms and hot hair are just around the corner.  This is me keeping warm just after the summer solstice.  This is England 2016.

IMG_3589Coach Rogue bag hanging with ‘Rexy’ bag charms and fall 2016 dress worn with Celine slip-ons

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0E5A9341Coach faux leopard coat worn with xxx dress 

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0E5A9372Coach souvenir jacket and prairie patchwork minidress worn with Maison Michel hat

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0E5A9445Coach shearling hoodie worn with Molly Goddard tartan dress

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0E5A9475Coach patchwork shearling vest worn with Mame dress

Coach turnlock creeper slides worn throughout

Hey Mickey!

The blog has been back burning for a bit.  With some good reason (some inexplicable ones) that will be revealed further down the line and in the interim there were a few comments that cried out “Where are your outfits?  What’s all this serious guff you’re writing about?”  Someone’s general wish is my command.  I have a ton of menswear musings to go up in lieu of Pitti and LC:M but for now, it’s time to celebrate a bit of cuteness.  Two American classics have joined forces for Disney x Coach 1941, a limited-edition collection featuring a very old school Mickey Mouse in his early drawn out form, japing about on Coach staple shapes like the Saddle bag and the Dinky as well as re-issued 1960s shapes that have been augmented with Mickey Mouse ears.  Coach are of course still in the midst of their 75 year anniversary celebrations, which is where Disney come in as a major Americana touchstone.  “Mickey Mouse is one of my earliest memories of American pop – his nostalgic charm, cheekiness, individuality and inherent cool make for the ultimate American icon,” said Stuart Vevers. “I’ve always seen Mickey as a playful rebel at heart and a timeless symbol of joy and creativity. That spirit reinforces the new youthful perspective we are bringing to luxury at Coach.”

Thinking about the way outsiders like Vevers, reflect upon something as vast and universal as Americana, this Disney x Coach collection made me go Eastwards, back to teenaged memories of Hong Kong and Japanese unisex fashion magazines that would dedicate their pages to “x” collabs, to iconic characters like Mickey Mouse, as it’s deemed perfectly acceptable to carry on your love of the childish well into adulthood.  The solid preppiness of the collection in particular, reminded me of that back-to-school feeling of acquiring new wares for September.  It’s no secret that every now and again, I like to resurrect hints of Sailor Moon costumes meets Battle Royale school uniforms.  How else do I have a rack of kilt or kilt-like skirts or shirts and pinafores that come with rectangular sailor collars (aided by the glory of a slew of Meadham Kirchhoff pieces).  They weren’t necessarily the school uniforms of my youth but I’m clutching on to the faint hope that a nod to the seifuku isn’t completely inappropriate at my advanced age.  Coach’s glove tanned leather backpacks, clutches and cross-boulder bags in a strict palette of tan, black, yellow and red lend themselves well to scholastic attire.  Mickey Mouse popping up as an embossed animated figure is of course “cho kawaii.”

Disney x Coach 1941 now on coach.com and Coach stores worldwide

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0E5A9660Wearing Disney x Coach Saddle bag Low Classic shirt and sailor collar scarf and Le Kilt kilt

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0E5A9724Wearing Disney x Coach crossbody clutch with Jenny Fax pinafore dress and Celine knitted t-shirt

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0E5A9752Wearing Disney x Coach Kisslock purse with Meadham Kirchhoff chiffon pinafore dress

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0E5A9797Wearing Disney x Coach Kisslock clutch with Meadham Kirchhoff embroidered top and Sacai deconstructed skirt

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0E5A9827Wearing Disney x Coach Rainger backpack with MO&CO Odyssey sweater, Meadham Kirchhoff sailor collar, Le Kilt x ASOS skirt