Amer­i­can Ex­press

Stu­art Vev­ers’ spring/sum­mer 2018 col­lec­tion for Coach 1941 is a love let­ter ded­i­cated to New York and the spirit of her peo­ple. By Ger­ald Tan

Harper's Bazaar (Singapore) - - COVER LOOK -

Ifirst spoke to Stu­art Vev­ers two sum­mers ago in Coach’s old show­room lo­cated a few blocks away from NewYork’s Hud­sonYards, a gleam­ing clus­ter of sky­scrapers ris­ing from mid­town Man­hat­tan. Fresh from Coach 1941’s de­but run­way show, a beam­ing and vis­i­bly re­laxed Vev­ers was busy field­ing ques­tions from fash­ion jour­nal­ists about the mo­men­tous cat­walk pro­duc­tion, which was pre­sented atop the High Line with the com­pany’s yet-to-be com­pleted head­quar­ters tow­er­ing in the back­ground.“It’s a re­al­ity:A beau­ti­ful lea leather coat with a t-shirt; the high-and-low mix that some­how feels youth­ful and con­tem­po­rary… Fa Fash­ion is more and more about the story each in­di­vid­ual item tells,” Vev­ers ex­plained back then o of the se­lec­tion of patch­work leather jack­ets and flo­ral tea dresses that spelt out his plans for the b brand.“I do what I can, what I be­lieve in, and I’m stay­ing true to that.”

Much has hap­pened since then. For starters, the Coach 1941 show is now an im­por­tant stop on the New York Fash­ion Week sched­ule.The com­pany has also moved into its new premises, wh where a sprawl­ing floor-to-ceil­ing glass dis­play of archival bag de­signs at the lobby is the first dec dec­la­ra­tion of how far Coach has come. In 2016, the brand marked its 75th an­niver­sary in equally high high-pro­file ways:A book re­lease, a fra­grance launch and a string of col­lab­o­ra­tions (in­clud­ing one with Dis­ney’s Mickey Mouse), cul­mi­nat­ing in a pre-fall run­way show and a star-stud­ded party. Ay A year later, its par­ent com­pany ac­quired Kate Spade for US$2.4 bil­lion and changed its name to Tap Ta­pes­try, Inc. to bet­ter rep­re­sent the weave of brands that now come un­der its um­brella.

Through it all,Vev­ers con­tin­ues to drive Coach’s growth by re­main­ing stead­fast in his vi­sion for the Amer­i­can leather goods brand.“When I started at Coach four years ago, I used its her­itage and ar­chives to give me a sense of what be­ing at the brand meant and to give me a sense of di­rec­tion so that I can look boldly for­ward,” the Bri­tish-born de­signer said. And look for­ward he did.Vev­ers’ on­go­ing evo­lu­tion of the brand is a reimag­in­ing of clas­sic Amer­i­cana— nos­tal­gic, ro­man­tic but ul­ti­mately mod­ern, play­ful and wear­able.

For spring/sum­mer 2018,Vev­ers de­cided to hon­our NewYork, a city in­ex­pli­ca­bly linked to Coach’s his­tory.“I wanted to cel­e­brate NewYork’s York’s diver­sity and cre­ativ­ity,”Vev­ers ex­plained post-show.“I think the city’s y’s the coolest in the world, and I re­ally wanted to cel­e­brate the peo­ple who have in­spired me over the years and con­tinue to do so to­day.”

Shrouded in near dark­ness, the set of the Coach 1941 show was con­structed to mimic a typ­i­cal NewYork street. Cov­ered com­pletely y in glit­ter, it glis­tened with the prom­ise of a bustling me­trop­o­lis whose grid-like streets pul­sate with an ir­re­sistible mag­netism.The ef­fect ex­tended ed to the clothes as well: Mod­els cir­cled the make-be­lieve dwelling in se­quinned nned slip dresses and shiny silk skirts, some peek­ing from un­der sheer gos­samer mer lay­ers or bur­nished leather jack­ets.“Evening wear is some­thing new for us. s. I like the idea of the Coach girl dress­ing up this sea­son,”Vev­ers said.“We’ve also started to ex­plore what we can do with denim.” The lat­ter came del­i­cately em­broi­dered or dec­o­rated with quilt-like patch­work ac­cents.

The main high­light of the show, how­ever, was the ap­pear­ance of Keith Har­ing’s graphic il­lus­tra­tions as a leit­mo­tif in the col­lec­tion.The late artist is s one of Vev­ers’ he­roes, and the de­signer found a strong con­nec­tion be­tween the “demo­cratic” mo­cratic” na­ture of Har­ing’s graf­fiti art and Coach’s val­ues of af­ford­able lux­ury for all. “His art was about be­ing in­clu­sive. It had a warmth and play­ful­ness to it, and I feel f l that th ti is very close l to t what h t Coach stands for,” Vev­ers elab­o­rated. He then ap­plied Har­ing’s sig­na­ture squig­gles lib­er­ally on snug sweaters, shear­ling jack­ets and t-shirts, plus a host of other ac­ces­sories that will surely ap­peal to fash­ion and art afi­ciona­dos alike.

In another move aligned with fash­ion’s grow­ing ap­petite for lo­gos, Vev­ers also resur rected Coach’s mono­gram and in­tro­duced it on a se­ries of em­bel­lished bags.“I’ve al­ways liked it, but I was wait­ing for the right time to bring it back,” he re­called.“In fact, I didn’t re­ally know it was go­ing to work un­til I star ted dress­ing ev­ery­thing and putting it all to­gether.” Be­sides demon­strat­ing Vev­ers’ abil­ity to in­still his works at Coach with rel­e­vancy and el­e­ments of ex­cite­ment and sur pr ise, it made for a cool state­ment against the jagged sky­line of NewYork, a bustling para­dox of a city that wakes up to some­thing new on ev­ery cor­ner of the street each day. ■

From top: The glit­tery set mul­ti­plied the dy­namism of the col­lec­tion. Coach’s mono­gram is given a new lease of life with all sorts of heavy-duty dec­o­ra­tion and em­bel­lish­ments. The slip dresses ex­uded sen­su­al­ity and girl­ish­ness at the same time

Clock­wise from top left: Pas­tel colours flooded the cat­walk. Vev­ers brought back the Mail­box bag, first de­signed by Bon­nie Cashin. Denim was con­trasted with leop­ard. Back­stage at the show. Coach’s ex­per­tise in leather turned up on a tough-look­ing jacket

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