Sunday, 3 August 2014

Stuart Vevers Debuts FW 2014 Collection for Coach

When a new Creative Director takes over the creative rein of a fashion house or label, it is akin to a much-awaited rebirth.

However, one common question that may pop from our minds, especially avid observers of the industry would be, “Can the new direction take the brand to a greater level?”

In the case of Coach, a storied leather goods purveyor from New York with foundation dating back to 1941, Creative Director Stuart Vevers is setting a new path that may be tad different from his predecessor Reed Krakoff that may catapult Coach as a cult brand among both existing customers as well as the growing new breed of fashionistas.

Albeit there is no doubt that Coach will be forever known for its quality offerings of leather goods crafted from supple, buttery soft leathers adorned with hallmarked hardware – the star attraction of the brand – Vevers is further strengthening the brand’s appeal and luxury status as a full-fledged fashion house with his debut fall/winter 2014 ready-to-wear collection.

A seminal line-up in its own right, Vevers did not only rework daily staples such as sweaters, outerwear and T-shirts but also redefine American style as a new state of mind from Coach’s perspective. 

The collection, which was presented during New York Fashion Week early this year, boasts pieces that aren’t just effortless and understated, but also highlighting the lighter side of American sportswear.

In a way, Vevers has successfully turned something that we have taken for granted all these years (t-shirts especially) into luxurious season must haves by amalgamating its functionality with Coach’s hallmarked luxury craftsmanship.

“I want Coach to be a genuine alternative to the luxury European brands, I’ve worked for,” said Vevers on his latest stint with Coach to Elle UK.

For this collection, it would be best to review it in a story. Looking at the look and feel of the pieces, I assume Vevers must have been inspired by the normalcy of American livelihood, far from the glitzy lights of Hollywood, the neon-lit billboards of Manhattan, the cutting-edge architectural feats of Chicago and the laidback palm tree-fringed beaches of Los Angeles and Florida.

The story woven by Vevers for his collection is a juxtaposition of two different phases. I would make it as a transitional story of a girl who came from a small town who suddenly catapulted to fame, entering an all-glamour world where all conversations are complemented with champagne, caviars and multitude of air kisses.  

For the first part, think of small town neighbourhoods that close to the hinterlands of the Mid-West where life remains as it is — unchanged since 1970s. 

Think old Mustangs and Chevy Camaro racing on the streets, breaking the silence of an autumn day; the moment when the country folks would be glued in front of their TV sets watching Apollo space shuttle being launched into the outer space and landed on the moon; and a gaggle of high school girls walking home after school. 

In this part, simple everyday items such as sweater with vintage graphic approach such as the caricature of Apollo and shearing-lined coats and leather miniskirts are definitive to the moment.   

Aspired to be someone famous and determine to prove to that high school jock that dumped her for a rich man’s girl, she packed her bag and took the first bus to New York.     

Why New York? Because she knew her star would shine brightly under the neon signs and the glistening metallic facade of the Chrysler building. 

Post checking in into a quasi rundown hostel somewhere close to Manhattan, she braved herself to face the real world. Her ‘armour” encompasses a red jacket with large hound’s-tooth print, a matching mini skirt, a knitted turtleneck sweater and a leather sling bag.

She has no portfolio and relies on whatever snapshots she took using her smartphone. Though the fears of being rejected linger inside her mind, her confidence keeps her head high. 

Alas, day one was not a success; most go-sees spelled failure. Hungry, she stopped by a hot dog cart for a quick bite and from afar, a talent scouting agent had her eyes on her.

 She decided to call it a day and retire to her hostel room, hoping for more luck tomorrow and the other days to come. The agent was besotted by her tall and lanky features; the alabaster skin and the silky long hair – outstanding features that are enough to qualify her for the upcoming designer label ad campaigns.  

In the sea of humans coming from different directions, the agent followed her. The small town girl hunch told her something may not be wrong, so she walked as fast as possible. Nevertheless, the agent, being a true blue New York woman, knew her way around. 

Dashing in her six-inch strappy stilettos, she crossed the girl’s path and without hesitating, introduced herself as a scouting agent from a renowned modelling agency.

Though the small town girl was a bit scared and reluctant to believe, she put her faith in her instinct and accepted the agent’s invitation for a casting session at her agency tomorrow afternoon. 

The day arrived and to impress her future bosses, she decided to put on a sophisticated ensemble of a leather long coat with fringe detailing on the long-sleeved cuffs, a skirt and a printed top with white leather sling bag.

What a lucky girl she was, her effortless style and her natural beauty instantly won the hearts of the agency owners. The deal was sealed and she’s on her way to be part of New York’s glamorous jet set.

Ready-to-wear aside, the other main highlight of the collection is the bags. Running away from the conventional approach of Coach, the bags are seemed to boasts influences derived from the styles of Native Americans and the Mid-West. The shapes are organic and rounded; soft and feminine. 

Shearing is a key material in this collection, where it can be seen adorning the bags, either partial or full, and accented with textured leathers, or as accents to the Chukka boots. The working palette comprises bright, lively colours and hardware in the form of metal studs adorned the pieces.

Amalgamating the exuberance of Wild West fashion with a hint of Victorian elegance are the accessories. Jet cameos are chained to a jet chain bracelet while Native American-esque feathers are meticulously crafted using leathers, looking bona fide feathers from afar. 

Like the cameo, the feathers are either attached to a necklace as pendant or as charms on some of the handbags. Even the felt wide-brimmed hats are adorned with feathers as well.

Coach by Stuart Vevers fall/winter 2014 collection is available now at selected Coach Boutiques worldwide.

*Photos courtesy of Coach

Coach - Lot 3.12 Level 3, Pavilion Kuala Lumpur Shopping Mall, 168 Jalan Bukit Bintang, 50011 Kuala Lumpur; Ground Floor, Unit G010203, Suria KLCC, Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur City Centre, 50088 Kuala Lumpur; Lot G223 Ground Floor, The Gardens Mid Valley City, 59200 Kuala Lumpur.  

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