In the 15th collection he designed for Coach 1941, Stuart Vevers returned to his starting place, the shearling. He revisited some favorite sources of inspiration, such as Terrence Malick films and the Great Plains; in fact, the set, with a broken-down house frame with tumble weeds and prairie grass, referenced his first runway show near the then-under construction High Line (and Coach headquarters).
This time, though, he did a style mash-up by mixing prairie with Eighties hip-hop, inspired by the book “Back in the Day.” The tomboy was also a reference point — think Tatum O’Neal’s character Addie in “Paper Moon,” to be exact. But with the Smashing Pumpkins’ “1979” playing throughout, and a voiceover from “Badlands” spliced in, Vevers’ prairie-hip-hop combo took on a grunge feel.
The brand is keen on a lifestyle, but specific categories stand out and currently, outerwear is king. Shearlings were distressed with raw edges and floral and eagle embroideries all over. He pushed the shearling idea even further with a dyed hoodie style with intarsia floral designs and a full-length topper coat that was dyed several shades of brown. The bomber and parka took on gargantuan proportions, the former in an allover embroidered floor-length, black-satin version; the latter, a brown, floral style reminiscent of a mattress design.
His house classic varsity, moto jacket and military coats were done up with all the bells and whistles, such as patches and removable fur collars with tassels. He layered most over charming ankle-length, buffalo-plaid chiffon dresses and homespun dirndl skirts, either patched with various fabrics such as leather or a retro horse print; he paired these with retro sweaters with a smocked motif. The looks were topped off with Elmer Fudd-like baseball caps in leather and shearling and worn with thick crepe-soled, sneaker hybrids and riffs on Birkenstocks in colored shearling.
Handbags looked to the Bonnie Cashin era, using the frame bag as a reference. A flat, cross-body style and doctor bag were also introduced. Jewelry came in the form of mini coin-purse necklaces, and rings and earrings with a turn-lock and duck motif.
Vevers added a few key men’s pieces to the fall lineup and showed them as icing on the women’s runway presentation. A Western fringed moto jacket with fur collar and a ragged and distressed shearling coat were two of the strongest outerwear pieces. And a duck intarsia sweater — the character of the season — added the humorous touch Coach is becoming known for.
If it all sounds like a lot, it was. But Vevers wants Coach to look completely unique and cool, a goal he is reaching by reworking familiar pieces in new ways for a new audience, not always the easiest of tasks. His vision for Coach is built upon authenticity, quality, craftsmanship and, of course, Americana: some key concepts that should keep recently deceased founder Miles Cahn resting peacefully and the Coach machine ticking for years.