Don’t be weft out in the cold

A dou­ble-faced coat gives Picky Nicky the edge

Wallpaper - - Column The Vinson View -

Dur­ing Fash­ion Week, usu­ally the day af­ter a show, the Wall­pa­per* team vis­its show­rooms to see the col­lec­tions up close. I touch the fab­rics, and try things on to see how they feel. I ask lots of ques­tions, way too com­pli­cated for most PR teams to answer, which is why I pre­fer to talk to the de­sign­ers them­selves. It’s there that I start my list of must-haves for the sea­son ahead.

Top of the Picked by Picky Nicky list right now is a dou­ble-breasted, dou­ble­faced coat, in merino wool or cash­mere, cut from two fab­rics that have been woven on a loom to­gether. The two lay­ers are usu­ally the same, but can be dif­fer­ent shades and are lightly con­nected by a bind­ing weft. The gar­ment is tai­lored with a hand-fin­ish­ing tech­nique that sep­a­rates the two lay­ers just enough at the edges and hem, around 2cm, be­fore the raw edges are turned back un­der them­selves to close the seams, giv­ing a per­fect fin­ish in­side and out.

The dou­ble-faced struc­ture means that jack­ets and coats can be tai­lored with­out the need for any shoul­der pad­ding, stiff­en­ing and, gen­er­ally, lin­ing (although a skinny sleeve might have a light lin­ing to as­sist in get­ting it on with ease). So the en­tire coat – give or take a few but­tons and a la­bel – is made of just the one piece of cloth, in­side and out. To en­thuse about such sar­to­rial mat­ters, I turn to de­signer Alessan­dro Sar­tori, my favourite fel­low qual­ity ma­niac, who hap­pens to work for Ermenegildo Zegna, a house that mills its own cloth and has been pro­duc­ing dou­ble-faced fab­ric for 100 years. For Sar­tori, when fit­ting a gar­ment, there is ‘a dream point’, achieved through work­ing down to the mil­lime­tre, where he can cre­ate a sharp shape with­out any pad­ding. A coat in Ermenegildo Zegna’s 300g Cen­tury cash­mere is ‘al­most weight­less’, he says, ‘like a sec­ond skin’. Pair it with a silk T-shirt in spring and au­tumn, or a sweater in win­ter and, Sar­tori says, it can be worn for up to ten months of the year, giv­ing plenty of wear per euro.

I have a two-but­ton blazer in dou­ble­faced wool from Raf Si­mons’ era at Jil San­der and, nine or so years on, I keep wear­ing it. Half the looks in his A/W09 Jil San­der women’s show were in dou­ble­faced cash­mere, his trib­ute to the team at the brand’s Ham­burg ate­liers (which sadly shut­tered around that pe­riod) that had tai­lored the brand’s clas­sics for decades.

The state­ment of a spare, dou­ble-faced coat can’t re­ally be beaten, for men or women. It is never too much nor too lit­tle. In­side and out, cut from one piece of very fine cloth, it’s the per­fect ex­pres­sion of form and func­tion.

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