Stuart Vevers Ushers Coach into a New Era

Coach certainly knows how to put on a show, and not just in the logistical sense. If the production certainly shines for its attention to detail – from ideally placed lighting for photographers and attendees to obtain sharp content, to an internal organization that results in the show actually starting as noted on the schedule, a rare event during NYFW – it has been the brand’s willingness to trust the reliable vision of its creative director Stuart Vevers to adapt to the times that makes attending their shows a pleasure. Setting up the runway along the High Line in midtown, an interesting change of venue after having shown on Pier 96’s Basketball City for the last few seasons, Stuart took us for another surprising and captivating spin. He steered Coach away from the signature prairie aesthetic he has come to define – and which a few years ago became one of the fashion industry's key trends – and brought it right back the city streets, away from the quaint and floral countryside.

To the music of celebrated English synth-pop Human League, Stuart took us along a journey through his New York. Stuart often taps into cinematic references for each collection, infusing the runway with certain narratives and tropes. This time around, even the looks felt like they might have been borrowed from an upcoming film touching on NYC's New Wave. Gone were the defining plaids, neutral hues, and the somber, leathery, and tame tones from previous seasons; and with the inspiration and energy provided by the city, in came slick new outerwear offerings in brighter and hip colors. This trend was especially noticeable on the outerwear, one of Coach's fortes, which included flight jackets and trench coats in a palette of retro shades including cherry red, oxblood, and mustard yellows. A pair of silver metallic slacks worn by Kaia Gerber, for instance, and a pink leather jacket which had been paired with a matching camisole and short set, were certainly stand outs which are bound to be coveted by downtown girls on the go.

In previous seasons, Vevers has also often referenced or directly collaborated with artists. This time around, the collection featured work by pop artist Richard Bernstein, who famously illustrated many covers for Interview Magazine. Printed on t-shirts, crew-necks, handbags, and (surprisingly) tank tops were the likes of Rob Lowe, Barbara Streisand, and Michael J. Fox, which, those in the know, of that generation or of a certain age, would have recognized as the models strolled by. It's visible that Vevers has reached a comfortable design momentum, a progression that has shouldered Coach into successfully building a renewed ready-to-wear identity. Many of the looks were imbued with a vibe from another time – defined by a cultural and artistic wave that can no longer be replicated – and some of the accessories were revived vintage styles inspired by the heritage brand's archive; but the designer's take on it all ushered yet another new era for Coach. Stripped of all flairs and embellishments that have been characteristic of Coach's recent bag offerings, there were, for example, these simple, yet very classic-feeling lunch box–size style bags worn by the models, sometimes two at a time, layered on their shoulders. There were also those multi-strapped high-tops and two-toned heels, which felt like a throwback but remained quite modern, blurring the line between the retro theme at hand and the current trends that are already surfacing for the season.

Coach Spring/Summer 2020 runway show in New York. Photo by Alessandro Garofalo for NOWFASHION.

Interestingly, this combination of past and future was not limited to Vevers’ creative Midas touch. Complementing the presentation of this season’s accessories presented during their runway, Coach unveiled a new bag collection called the Coach originals. Uniting the brand’s long history of leather craftsmanship with Vevers’ more modern sensibilities, an experiential pop-up shop on Madison Avenue was opened to coincide with NYFW where visitors could see and feel all the bags in person. Aesthetically somewhere between new and old, the designs were categorized as ‘Remade,’ ‘Restored,’ or ‘Remixed.’ In other words, the concept seems to revolve around combining styles of the past and making the old seem new again, and Vevers tastefully pulled off this trick for Coach in his Spring 2020 offering.

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