NEW YORK, United States — It’s been exactly two years since Stuart Vevers made his debut at Coach and in that time he has managed to construct an imaginary girl who embodies exactly what he’s trying to do with this oh-so-American brand. While Vevers says he’s most inspired by the way women dress in New York City, an idealized take on high school in Middle America — a corn field of dreams — is a part of every one of his collections. His woman has a teenager’s spirit. Images of Jodie Foster and Sissy Spacek often populate Vever’s mood board, but this season he was thinking, in particular, about Youngblood, the 1986 film starring Rob Lowe and Patrick Swayze about a farmhand who dreams of being a star in the National Hockey League.
“We had a very feminine collection for Spring,” Vevers mentioned backstage after the show, in between photo-ops with multiple friends of the brand, including Dree Hemingway and Chloë Grace Moretz. “For Fall, I wanted to play with some tougher references.”
Not so tough, though. The designer loves the idea of girl gangs and this season’s pretty posse was clad in oversize letter jackets decorated with old-fashioned cloth patches, including a big ol’ ‘C’, reminiscent of vintage hockey uniforms. The silhouette underneath was pretty universal: a neat little a-line skirt and pointy-collar shirt, sometimes done as separates, other times as a dress. (He mixed in some slim trousers as well.)
Vevers is adamant, and rightly so, that in order for his reinvention of the Coach brand to stick, he must build consistency into the wares. He accomplished that in both silhouette and feel by bringing back cowboy shirting-inspired dresses, shrunken baseball jackets covered in sequined badges, and infusing the whole look with a general rockabilly flair.
The newness came in the colours and graphics: brushed-out peach-and-orange shearling on the collar of a smart trench with plastic-y white buttons, a doodled outer space print on a peach silk frock, overstitching on the teepees and skulls that were intarsia-ed onto the season’s novelty sweater. He also talked about the idea of an American quilt, which manifested itself in patchworked calico-prints.
Such a fun, stylised collection warranted so much attention that the pocketbooks — Coach’s bread and butter — were the last thing you noticed. The shoes, particularly a riveted Chelsea boot, were jazzy. But the bags? They were nice enough and a $795 limited edition of the “Rogue” zipped carryall was available to buy straight off the runway in multiple iterations. But Vevers has yet to hit the “It-bag” jackpot at Coach, which isn't going to be easy given the breadth of product on the market. However, it’s good to remember that he’s done it before, and more than once. (See Mulberry circa 2005 for proof.) The honchos at Coach are betting he’ll make it rain once again.