Harriet Ste­wart on the sea­son’s trick­i­est trends

ELLE (UK) - - Contents -

Our as­so­ciate fash­ion ed­i­tor on how to work PVC for day


– what­ever you choose to call it, the slick, wipe-clean look was all over the AW18 run­ways. And it has one big ad­van­tage: it’s wa­ter­proof. It couldn’t be more prac­ti­cal for us Brits and our un­pre­dictable weather. Tak­ing style notes from the sea­son’s big­gest shows – think wader boots (thanks, Prada), wa­ter-re­pel­lent skirts with an­kle socks and biker jack­ets (as seen at Miu Miu) and lac­quered trench coats (Fendi, Chloé, Marni) – dress­ing for a down­pour has never been eas­ier.

But don’t let your­self be fooled. De­spite its util­i­tar­i­an­ism, this isn’t a trend born out of prac­ti­cal­ity. Sex, it was clear to see, was a big source of in­spi­ra­tion for de­sign­ers in their au­tumn/win­ter col­lec­tions, where echoes of fetishism in the form of wipe-clean patent leather took cen­tre stage.

Christo­pher Kane cel­e­brated sex in all its PVC-clad glory with a col­lec­tion that fea­tured shots of lace, leather and bare skin, as well as a more lit­eral in­ter­pre­ta­tion, which came in the form of nude dresses printed with draw­ings from the fa­mous Seven­ties hand­book The Joy of Sex.

Fendi and Ver­sace put their own spin on high-shine dom­i­na­trix-style coats, too: Fendi teamed the style with a match­ing hand­bag and lo­go­print boots, al­though you would be brave to do the same in real life. Even Si­mone Rocha – doyenne of frothy, fem­i­nine dresses – made an un­ex­pected nod to fetishism in her col­lec­tion via glossy, patent dress coats in khaki and red, tied with bows and adorned with trail­ing black rib­bon.

But these new, glossy fin­ishes don’t have to be kinky, and they def­i­nitely don’t have to be black – in fact, for a sea­sonal up­date, I would say steer clear of that. Look at Mary Ka­trant­zou and her ice-cream pas­tels, or Marni’s paint­box brights in the form of a play­ful flasher mac, where the fun lies in a slick, Yves Klein-blue ex­te­rior rather than what lies be­neath (those around you might be pleased to hear that). And Vic­to­ria Beck­ham’s plas­ti­cised bonded-wool coat in khaki feels cur­rent but clas­sic.

So, what to buy for ev­ery­day com­mutes and the of­fice nine-to-five? I find it hard to re­sist the sat­is­fy­ing squeak of a pair of PVC trousers. You may as well go all out, so go for some­thing skin-tight and high-waisted. Baggy wet-look styles could be un­flat­ter­ing and, I would imag­ine, dif­fi­cult to pull off with­out look­ing like you work in in­dus­trial-waste man­age­ment.

If wet-look trousers feel like a step too far, you can hardly go wrong with a patent rain mac. It’s the sim­plest segue into what is quite a tricky trend to pull off and also the eas­i­est way to earn style points with­out com­mit­ting to a whole look – go for colour or print here. Find­ing the right fin­ish is also key: a fab­ric that’s too thin will look cheap, whereas any­thing too stiff will look great but you’ll feel like you’ve been strapped to a gur­ney due to the lack of mo­bil­ity it af­fords. And a coat that’s wipe-clean is surely a perk.

Shoes are an­other easy win. Patent boots, ideally with a block heel and round toe, feel very Chanel. And a patent rain hat (like Eudon Choi’s) will see you through win­ter frizz-free. Scan­di­na­vian out­er­wear brand Rains also has a great range of hats that err just on the stylish side of sen­si­ble.

Con­sider this a more prac­ti­cal up­date on last sea­son’s plas­tics, which came with one ma­jor pit­fall: try run­ning for a bus in a trans­par­ent coat and things will get a lit­tle steamy. One ELLE col­league ac­tu­ally com­plained of con­den­sa­tion form­ing on the in­side of her Miu Miu coat. Imag­ine. Or per­haps don’t. With that in mind, here are five things to con­sider: 1. Do not walk too close to a fel­low-plas­tic-wear­ing friend. You will more than likely end up stick­ing to each other, and no­body wants that.

2. It’s prob­a­bly best to avoid a bum-graz­ing, patent mi­cro-mini skirt, un­less you’re wild about your legs. But if you’re go­ing to do it, take your style cue from Miu Miu.

3. If this is your first foray into the trend, maybe don’t wear spray-on PVC trousers to work. Un­less you work at ELLE, of course, in which case come on in and col­lect £200 as you pass Go.

4. In­vest in the best-qual­ity piece you can af­ford. When it comes to fab­ric, cheap vinyl will al­ways look cheap; there’s no way around it.

5. Fi­nally: never go head-to-toe wet-look. One piece is enough here.

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