Leather Takes the Lead!
Fashion steps into Fall in a decidedly upbeat mood, with designers serving up a wider variety of styles, shapes and colors than has been seen in many a season.
Overall, the single most striking direction is the return of “ladylike” dressing, though this theme is subject to a multitude of variations: there are retro-inspired looks with precisely-tailored lines and rich details, as well as more contemporary ensembles featuring sleek, elegantly simple shapes that showcase the season’s ultra-luxe fabrications. And at times, this season’s lady likes to go a little bit wild, making a statement with tongue-in-chic mixes of patterns, colors and textures that are extravagant, exuberant – and yet somehow perfectly pulled-together.
Leather is a natural element for all of Fall’s many moods and expressions, with designers making the most of its versatility, rich textures and upscale appeal. This season, leather and suede can be played off of vintage tweeds, ethereal chiffons and glamorous satins, but they’re also perfectly paired with aerodynamic tech-enhanced fabrics. Refined coats and topcoats are reinvented in rich shearling. Classic leather blazer and trench styles are updated in unexpected pale shades and ultra-bright tones. Gutsy racing and motorcycle styles emerge in new guises from sporty to sophisticated. According to the Leather Association, here are some of the ways leather’s diversity is expressed in the best of fashion for Fall:
Coats are a critical part of Fall’s pulled-together approach, with designers offering an array of refined styles reflecting vintage influences from the ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s. For women, the newest looks are slim, sophisticated and pretty – as in Dominic Bellissimo’s sleek-lined shearling coat in red merino, trimmed with a black fox collar and cuffs for a ladylike appeal. For men, Bellissimo recasts the classic men’s wool topper in luxe lambskin shearling, giving the look a more modern stance, along with its upscale appeal.
Fresh color adds impact to the latest designs in leather, as designers expand their palettes well beyond traditional autumnal tones. Subtle “cosmetic” colors like face cream, powder blue and blush pink impart inescapable femininity to tailored jacket and coat styles, such as Kenneth Cole Outerwear’s blush toned blouson with a flattering face-framing collar. At Pelle Studio, the classic zip-front jacket has fresh appeal in cream toned leather, while Siena Studio offers a fresh take on the trenchcoat in in crème caramel-colored Italian nappa.
As a counterpoint to the season’s pale story, bold brights liven the scene in high voltage hues like electric blue, fuchsia, turquoise and rouge. These strong shades make a particularly striking statement in Fall shearling and suede: Dominic Bellissimo interprets a jeans jacket in vibrant turquoise shearling, while Bernardo turns out a trenchcoat in spicy pumpkin – in a suede style that is machine-washable and Scotchgard™ protected for stain-resistance.
Racing looks rev up for Fall, with NASCAR-themed designs adding some speed to street fashion. At Wilsons Leather, stock car legend Dale Earnhardt, Jr. provides the inspiration for a men’s NASCAR-style racing jacket, in multi-colored leather with patched sleeves. For female aficionados, there’s Schott Brothers’ white leather racer with perforated leather trim.
Motocross looks also continue to accelerate this season, with designers turning out an array of new variations on the iconic biker style. Kenneth Cole Outerwear interprets the look in brown leather with an asymmetrical zip-closure, while Black Rivet features a black lambskin scuba with rib knit collar and body-conscious corset detailing. Bernardo Men cuts its motocross jacket from a tan “naked desert” lambskin, in a pared-down design that puts the spotlight on this leather’s unique finish and natural texture.
With prep dressing continuing to gain in appeal, new versions of collegiate styles make a strong showing for Fall. Sean John Outerwear puts a modern spin on the vintage varsity jacket, recasting the letterman look in espresso brown wool with bold orange leather sleeves.
There’s a Western wind blowing through town for Fall, with shearlings and details like saddle-stitching employed to express rugged authenticity – as in Columbia Sportswear’s retro-styled cognac suede jacket for women with four flap pockets and double-stitch accents. In other cases, the interpretation is more urbane than rustic, illustrated by the brown suede hipster with faux shearling lining by Phat Farm Leathers. Timberland Leathergear combines the spirit of the outdoors with a polished “go to town” attitude in a brown washed suede jacket embellished with triple-needle top-stitching and logo embroidery.
Fashion’s passion for decorative treatments is amply illustrated in leather. Embossing and printed effects play an important part in fall textured emphasis, as in Cole Haan Outerwear’s croc-embossed blazer. Fall is also a stichin’ time, with designers applying an amazing array of embroidery, pick-stitching and other accents: Bernardo adds pretty floral trapunto stitching to the front of a kiwi-colored jacket in its machine-washable, Scotchgard™ protected suede, while Nine West Outerwear accents a black leather coat with some subtle herringbone pattern stitching.
From motorcycle looks with attitude to refined looks with a new tailored sensibility, this season’s leather, suede and shearling looks offer versatility and fashion savvy for everyone’s fall wardrobe.