>> It could be the fact that I’ve spent more time at home, camped out on the sofa with Nico permanently attached to my chest and a roster of distractions on Apple TV.  I’ve somehow found myself reliving the decade of the Space Race by rewatching Mad Men (I like to shuffle play the episodes in non chronological order just to prove to myself that the writing of that show reigns supreme), binging on the documentary series The Kennedy Files, along with its declarations of “We choose to go to the Moon” and also catching the brilliant film Hidden Figures, about the role of African-American mathematicians at NASA, when I was flying to Los Angeles.  It’s not so much the intricate science of space but more the idea of getting there and unravelling the mystery of the skies beyond that makes that 1960s journey of reaching this new frontier so compelling.     Type “space collage” into Google Image and you’ll find a whole raft of Photoshopped imaginations of space that are also tinged with the era Kennedy vs. Khrushchev with a litany of dreamscapes, depicting galaxies colliding with retro pool scenes and cadillacs.  Irish artist Steven Quinn is a primary instigator of these weird but wonderful images that draw your eye into a world where outer space feels that bit more tangible.

It’s no wonder then that Americana dreamer Stuart Vevers chose to blast off into space for Coach, with a comprehensive collection of jackets, sweatshirts, tees, bags and trinkets that have been embellished with space age nostalgia.  Coach’s stable of shearling, varsity and leather jackets and Dinky and Saddle bags have been patched up with space motifs that might have lured the wide-eyed wannabe astronauts, watching the Moon landing in 1969.  “There’s something about the time of the Space Program that just gives this feeling of possibility,” says Vevers about the collection.  “The space references, rockets and planets are symbolic of a moment of ultimate American optimism and togetherness.”  Two things that seem woefully lacking right now, which is probably why the gung-ho patriotism and enthusiasm of those space missions feel somewhat comforting to watch.  And even more of a trip to wear.

 Coach Space sweatshirt and Gotham Tote worn with ShuShu Tong poloneck and Serena Bute tracksuit bottoms 

Coach Space varsity jacket and bad worn with Miu Miu skirt

Coach Space trucker jacket worn with ASOS shirt, SomewherexNowhere dress and Christopher Kane sunglasses

Coach Space sweatshirt and purse worn with Blue Roses by Ed Meadham sleeves and Jonathan Saunders slip 

Coach Space shearling jacket and Dylan bag worn with Balenciaga vest and MYOB trousers

All collages by Steven Quinn

I’ve written about many a collaboration over the years with the all-important “x” becoming indicative of a cross-field, cross-price-bracket, cross-genre way of working that noughties fashion has thrown up.  We’ve come to expect (dare we say tire?) collabs of the high street-high end nature as well as ones where fashion intersects with art, film or music.  Peer to peer designer collaborations though are fewer and far between.  A tie-up between a behemoth brand and a young-ish independent designer is even more unexpected.  And so the collaboration between Coach and Rodarte is a pleasantly curious one.  From a conversation surrounding the logistics of both parties showing on the same day during New York Fashion Week, a friendship was struck up between Stuart Vevers and Kate and Laura Mulleavy.  Which by itself wouldn’t lead you to believe that a collaboration was on the cards but after a few fluid meetings at Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles, a Coach & Rodarte capsule collection came to fruition.  Vevers has been sending the Coach gang on a never ending American road trip since he came to the American leather goods house and naturally the Mulleavys’ West Coast location would make a prominent pit stop.

At first glance, the collaboration might seem like an unlikely one but upon further inspection, it’s really the coming together of two designers obsessed with a hazily lensed and imagined vision of America, often filtered through cinematic references.  The Mulleavy sisters took Vevers under their nuanced Californian wing and in turn, Vevers unlocked Coach’s leather goods expertise for them to produce a collection of bags (a first for the sisters), leather garments and more accessible tees and sweatshirts.   Rodarte’s dreamer aesthetic plays out across a heavy dose of dusky pink, pearly daisies and metallic leather pailette applique, that has been applied to Coach’s down to earth glove tanned universe.  There’s also a cheeky nod to their previous dabblings in “Radarte” slogan tees, with the resurrection of 1970s Coach slogan ‘This is A Coach bag’, paired with intarsia renderings of the advertising imagery.

All in all, it’s an equal footed exchange of both like-minded inspiration as well as rare show of a helping hand from a corporate giant to an independent entity.  Moreover, it’s a capsule collection that doesn’t dumb down Rodarte’s aesthetic, nor does it compromise the language of Coach – and thus makes for a successful mash-up between the two American houses, despite the gulf in size.

Coach & Rodarte collection available online, in Coach stores and at Selfridges until the 14th May

Coach x Rodarte courier bag and crewneck with archive intarsia

Coach x Rodarte courier crossbody bag and crewneck with archive intarsia 

Coach x Rodarte tote with archive print and t-shirt with archive print

Coach x Rodarte turnlock wristlet

I’m just about emerging out of a hallucinatory haze, comprising the tail end of what seemed like a never ending pregnancy, a shockingly speedy labour that then segued into a shocking amount of blood loss and then two solid months (feeling like two years) of falling in love with this new being in my life and having my heart stabbed every time she cries.  And then all the while, the fashions have been going on in New York, London, Milan and Paris and I wasn’t there for the first time in about seven years.  Colleagues and cohorts have said I haven’t missed much but I think they’re just trying to make me feel better.

It’s not however necessarily the fashion that I have missed but the feeling of doing something with my brain, unclouded by feeding times, nap times, more feeding times and the occasional time when her eyes are awake, looking at you in that way that makes you feel like an awful human being for even thinking about wanting to do anything BUT look after her.  I’ve barely written a thing.  I’ve not read anything longer than a five hundred word online article (or more precisely a few panicked sentences in a baby forum that never seems to answer the question that I’m asking at 4am in the morning).  Venturing outside and breathing physical fresh air has mostly ended with my rushing back inside the house, clutching an Amazon Prime parcel or a bouquet of flowers (thanks friends, family and fashion peeps for filling our house with all that flora).

That haze is slowly clearing up though and with Nico Hiu Nei (pronounced Lei if you speak Cantonese) Salter-Lau registered and writ real into the world, I’m also beginning to think about integrating my daughter (I’m still trying that word on for size… ) into life, rather than making life revolve around her.  That could also be fighting talk that decrescendos into me staying in a nursing bra and bobbly overwashed leggings for the next week.

Still, the haze did produce something to kickstart the blog with, after the looooong hiatus.  Namely, a variety of shades of a colour that automatically accompanies and heralds the birth of a baby girl.  Thankfully, the range of pinks I’ve been receiving have been of the nuanced kind.  And they’re also things that don’t just revolve around saccharine baby gifts.  I’ve also been feeding my sleep addled brain  – online and in person – with images that are incidentally along that colour register.  On film Natalie Portman standing in the White House in a blood-splattered pink Chanel suit in Pablo Larrain’s Jackie, Naomie Harris staring down the camera with a menacing neon pink light behind her and Matty Bovan’s pink hued fashion film Girlness have been on my mind.  Wolfgang Tillmans’ skyscapes and crustacea and Ren Hang’s visceral poeticism and Maisie Cousins’ sexually charged fruits and flowers are also floating around in the noggin somewhere.  There’s little coherence below other than the shared colour palette but that’s par for course when you’re going through the postpartum pink haze.

Molly Goddard S/S 17 dress worn with Chanel t-shirt, Waven jeans and Shrimps x Converse hi-tops

Maisie Cousins

Lina Scheynius image from “09”

Sandy Liang dress with Yolke sleep mask and J.W. Anderson pink Pierce bag

Patty Carroll “Anonymous Women” series

Nico in Stella McCartney bunny knitted romper and bonnet, Soft Gallery onesie from Scandi Mini, La Coqueta booties, Studio Arhoj moneybanks and Loewe blanket

Wolfgang Tillmans, Astro Crusto, 2012 

Wolfgang Tillmans, From the Skies, 2015

Nico in Fendi Baby romper and pram blanket with Melanie Johnsson prints

Anna Barlow ceramic ice-cream tiles

Holly Hendry installation at “Wrot” Baltic Mill, 2017

Mold Magazine

Karen Walker “Transformers” sunglasses and Sophie Hulme S/S 17 Albion tote worn with Prada jumper

Ren Hang photography

Repetto “Anna” ballerinas  with Luncheon magazine issue 1

Naomie Harris in Moonlight

Natalie Portman in Jackie

Still from Matty Bovan’s film Girlness for Barbie’s 58th Birthday

Fiorucci bomber jacket 

India Mahdavi interior for Red Valentino store in London

Milo Baughman sofa from Coming Soon NY

Plys knitwear and Christopher Kane safety buckle Devine bag 

James Springall collage

Jo Brocklehurst drawing from Nobodies and Somebodies at House of Illustration

Fendi S/S 17 “Rokoko” trainer boots and Prada lace-up socks

Christian Lacroix homage editorial photographed by Roe Ethridge and styled by Katie Shillingford from AnOther Magazine S/S 17

I hadn’t really intended to write any posts about dressing my pregnancy bump for two reasons – first that the internet is awash with advice, tips and recommendations on maternity attire and second that from the get-go, I had wanted to adjust or change as little as possible with regards to my wardrobe.  There’s no nice way of putting it .  Mainstream maternity wear by and large, sucks.  It can generally be summed up with horizontal stripes, faux kimono wrap constructions and copious amounts of cotton jersey (scroll through #Bumpfie on Instagram and your eyes adjust to that linear striped pattern).  In other words, clothes that I wasn’t prepared to spend actual money on.

But as my due date has been and gone (yes, I’m STILL pregnant) and I’ve weirdly adjusted to this bulbous formation that has been with me, more or less since August last year, I realised I had gathered up a personal arsenal of tactics that has enabled me to largely avoid the dull horizontal stripy jersey maternity hole.  Therefore here’s one last set of outfits in my largest, most rotund state, that pretty much sums up my mat wear approach.  I can’t say there’s any legit wisdom that other pregnant person can take away seeing I can only speak for my own changing curvilinear bod, but anyhow, here goes… the most specific and therefore least useful bump-dressing advice that has been ever been administered…

Enjoy!  Or not as the case may be…

– Layering need not be abandoned.  In fact the bigger I got, I think the more layers I put on just because once it was evident I was pregnant, nobody was going to really mistake three layers of skirts with two jumpers for a food baby.  When I wore a voluminous skirt with an extra puffy Coach shearling coat over it, I did get a male nurse at UCLH asking me, “Are you pregnant or is that just fashion?”  Chortling, I replied with, “It’s both!”

– There are obvious designers that aided me through the months.  Molly Goddard’s gatherings of tulle, smocking and elastic that got me through dressier occasions.  Simone Rocha’s generous proportions of beautiful fabrics, which “swaddled” my body, as it did hers when she was pregnant with her own precious daughter Valentine.  Sturdy outerwear from Coach to keep the final trimester months warm and cuddly.  Then there were less obvious culprits.  Thanks to Selfridges’ support of Fashion East designer Richard Malone, I overwore his use of ribbed jersey, asymmetric cuts and apron-esque constructions.  Vetements’ floral dresses – either in oversized bonded cotton or stretchy viscose – were also hugely useful.  Yes, wearing all that hype may have added extra weight but it would be churlish to fault the design or the roomy sizing…

– Wrap skirts that had several button settings or kilts that had different buckle distances can be worn when fastened “incorrectly” and worn over trousers, almost like a pelmet.  I had to look longingly at my rack of zippered skirts but wrap skirts were fortunately game.

– All hail the knitted trouser.  Ribbed knit trousers sort of became my equivalent of the legging.  Yanking and peeling off huggy sports leggings has become virtually impossible in the last two months without my partner helping me out but not so with the knitted trew that flops to the floor once waistband has been eased down .  Topshop and ASOS both did some great ones that were either made more interesting with a flare shape or cropped proportion.

– Speaking of elastic waistbands, not all are created equal alas.  The prize for the bestest of elastic waistbands goes to a pair of Comme by Comme des Garcons red velvet trousers, which festively doubled up as Santa Pants.  Plenty of give in the waistband despite it being a size SMALL and no painful digging in to the belly.  Topshop’s Lucas maternity jeans were the one exception to the no-mat-wear rule as the soft ribbed waistband also proved too comfy to forgo.  And leather trousers miraculously worked for most of my pregnancy thanks to J Brand’s cropped matte leather trews that came with a very forgiving elasticated waistband.

– It goes without saying that roomy dropped waist flapper dresses and bias cut slip dresses were also my salvation.  Except I’ve stretched a few of them out at the belly.  Bias cut pieces in particular seemed to skim over the bump most pleasingly.  Therefore browsing on eBay/Etsy/Kerry Taylor and on Camden Passage and Alfie’s in London was still viable.

– My love of flatforms was sustained all the way through pregnancy, with ankle straps and buckles tied at their largest size to allow for any swelling.  The key is weight of the shoe, illustrated by these Coach resort ones where the creeper sole is surprisingly light, with the added benefit of being about to have a bit of bounce in the step when the time comes to get the baby head down.  Fortunately my feet didn’t swell up so most of my flat shoes and trainers were by and large still wearable.

– Jumpers and sweaters have not in fact been ruined by their stretching over a bump.  I’ve come to be quite fond of the way they ride up at the front revealing a slither of bump to the world in all its stretch marked glory.  But just in case of the odd uncomfortable stare from sniggering teenagers on the bus, like I said before, there’s the layering thing with long shirts and tunics that can go underneath the riding up knitwear.

– I’m thanking the statement jackets and outerwear that I could still fling on if I did end up defaulting to shambolic lasagne-stained t-shirts underneath.  The zanier the coat or jacket, the better it made me feel in fact.  Volume!  Colours!  Print!  Embellishment!  Looking like an overly decorated sausage roll was precisely what I was going for.

– Oh, and lest there are any holier-than-thou zenned out mothers or mothers-to-be, thinking that I dedicated far too much thought to what I wore during what is supposed to be this beautiful and magical time, to ponder the miracle of life that is growing inside of me, time sloooooowed to a snail’s pace.  Every minute became more pronounced and elongated, even more so when I did eventually begin to wind down work-wise.   All the better to devote time towards sifting through dropped waist flapper dresses and experimentally yanking elasticated waistbands up and down my body…

Wearing Coach four pocket leather jacket, Coach cut out creepers and Coach patchwork Rogue with Richard Malone top from Selfridges, 2ndDay patent skirt and ASOS flared trousers

 

Wearing Coach Wild Beast cropped coat, Coach Car sweater, Coach haircalf cut out creepers and Coach Rocket Rogue with Prada sheer dress and Topshop knitted trousers

Wearing Coach Western Moto jacket, Coach car sweater, Coach patchwork Rogue and Coach cut out creepers with Vetements floral dress and Paskal sheer skirt

Wearing Coach car sweater and Coach haircalf cut out creepers with Ryan Lo blanket coat, Comme by Comme des Garcons velvet trousers and Low Classic shirt