Vogue International Editor Suzy Menkes is the best-known fashion journalist in the world. After 25 years commenting on fashion for the International Herald Tribune (rebranded recently as The International New York Times), Suzy Menkes now writes exclusively for Vogue online, covering fashion worldwide.
Designer Stuart Vevers channelled everything from Elvis to moccasins to give a down-New-Mexico-way feel to the brand for summer 2017
19 Сентября 2016
Trashed cars heaped up, their once shiny surfaces worn and grimy. Studs gleaming on leather jackets, shoes and purses. Could this really be Coach 1941, the brand that was once known only for its bags gifted to young girls on graduation day?
Designer Stuart Vevers had taken Coach for a wild ride, using his British background as an opportunity to take a fresh, and not-so-innocent-innocent, look at America.
This journey was not quite a trip to the badlands, but an opportunity to match the smashed cars with tough young women marching purposely forward in heavy boots and grounding semi-sheer dresses. Flesh was just about covered up by floral shorts and the fringed, studded leather jackets.
It started in Santa Fe — Stuart's summer vacation destination — hence the mash up of studded boots with Mohican fringing, sweetly pretty flowered dresses, leather jackets with heart and star studs framing images of wild cats and the word "rebel.
And don't forget Elvis — his chubby yet sculpted face outlined on t-shirts, his soft, deep voice on the soundtrack and his granddaughter Riley Keough front row.
At its best that meant a biker jacket patterned in strips of tiny florals edged in lace. On the wild side, the "Bobcat Rebels" looked like they were trying too desperately to be cool.
As with any brand - and there are many from Gucci to Prada — who grow from accessories into clothing, is the runway show meant as a backdrop or as the full fashion item?
Suzy Menkes: What is behind this Coach collection that seems to be inspired by big country America?
Stuart Vevers: I am very inspired by New York, so I am always looking at the girl going on a trip and then coming back to the city. A lot of American culture, whether it’s art or not, is this mash up of different cultures and references from all around the world.
SM: I can see that you take elements of colour and texture, but doesn't it have to be processed so that you could wear the collection around the world, rather than shouting "this was inspired by New Mexico"?
Craft is not about perfection. It is quite naïve and homespun, and I’ve always felt it’s important for Coach to have a different standpoint of what luxury can mean. It's not about it being perfect, it’s about it feeling personal. That American craft in Santa Fe is quite spontaneous and not about precious materials. It's about ingenuity and being immediate.
SM: But when it comes to the accessories — and especially the bags — you’re not talking about something that is hand spun. It has got to travel on the Subway for a year without falling apart. So how does this "naive" idea translate?
SV: They are moccasins. Again we took it to the next level and it felt like something that was customised by the gang. We’ve got a lot of embroidery, floral patches and the studs are important. Again, it is taking an American staple and making it for our gang. It really is all about that idea of something that’s been customised by the Coach girl.
SV: The top of the pyramid for us is becoming a fashion brand. Before, Coach didn’t participate with a ready-to-wear or a seasonal collection to take part in Fashion Week. The show gives me a chance to say, "look — this is a new day". Coach is now a fashion brand because we’re engaging in seasonal collections. We've had a good response to it and it’s brought in a new client, for sure.
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