In a season of few obvious trends, one idea has emerged as a clear winner: the coat. At LouisvuittonShop we've taken to calling it The Everything Coat because it's so loud, so bold, so good, you don't need to wear anything else with it. Also: the Everything Coat as in, 'This coat is everything!'
Outerwear is always a big category for autumn/winter by nature of it being very cold outside. But this month the coat has taken on a greater significance — there's this recurring sense of protecting oneself from the elements, as in Maison Margiela's bomb cyclone-proof cagoules, and the more metaphorical idea of shielding oneself from all the turbulence in the world and online as seen through Rick Owens' padded swaddles.
The shows have been filled with standout outerwear in every possible shape, texture and colourway from the hybrid puffers at Sacai to the sleek leather coats at Kenzo and enormous fur bombers at Sonia Rykiel. But those on show at Balenciaga and Givenchy were among the most best.
Clare Waight Keller's impressive, second ready to wear collection for the latter opened with a belted, full length faux fur that, despite being modest in shape and size, was all sex and sophistication thanks to lush patchwork and a patent belt. It kicked off a lineup filled with a dizzying selection of fur coats, all faux. (Add Waight Keller to the growing list of designers stepping away from the controversial animal skin.) There was an extra-long sleeved three-quarter length option in chocolate brown, a slim full-length, leather trimmed coat in leopard print, and a large-collared teddy bear coat in rust, among many, many others.
And if fur of any kind isn't your thing, there were alternatives in leather, wool and cotton. Take your pick. Backstage, Keller said her collection was inspired by the Eighties club scene in Berlin, but the overall look was notably more grownup than her youthful, more contemporary looking debut in October. Coming just months after her strong first couture outing for the house, it signalled a promising direction for the brand.
Outerwear was also the main talking point at Balenciaga, where Demna Gvasalia's enormous, multi-layered anoraks, hoodies and parkas — literally everything! —quickly became the stuff of memes. (His viral set, a snow mountain backdrop covered in graffiti inspired by Nineties snowboarders, also set social media ablaze.) 'The collection is conceived as a building of layers … the idea of dressing for extreme weather develops in the progressive adding of layer on layer,' his press notes explained.
This was the first show to combine the brand's men's and women's wear on a single runway and in combining the two showed the full breadth of Gvasalia's skill set. There was impeccable, near flawless tailoring through supercharged versions of the brand's trademark basque jackets and coats. The secret to the precision was his experimentation with three-dimensional body scanning and digital fittings to create a high-tech mould. The pieces, including a razor sharp, double breasted coat in matte black, gave new meaning to the term sleek.
And like Clare Waight Keller's move away from fur, the Balenciaga collection also earned points for doing good. Demna has pledged a portion of sales to support the World Food Programme (hence the knits and hoodies with the charity's logo), in addition to a $250,000 donation already made to the organisation's work fighting global hunger. In this age of luxury fashion using clothing to broadcast political and social beliefs — it would be good to see more brands backing the rhetoric up with donations like this.