The timeless appeal of the trench coat

The outerwear consecrated by the cinema is also the protagonist for the autumn winter 2018 2019 season.

He is the chief symbol of all film noir, but also of British elegance. Although it is now recognized as the best seller of Burberry, it is difficult to historically place the birth of the trench coat. The paternity of the most iconic coat of film history is still an open question between Mackintosh and Aquascutum. The Scottish chemist was the first to patent the impermealisation in 1983, while twenty years later it was Aquascutum who began producing waterproof coats for the British army during the Crimean War.


Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Courtesy Paramount Pictures

This garment, as it is today, is certainly born for the British war industry, and it was Thomas Burberry, after Aquascutum, who was commissioned to produce a waterproof coat for the British military. After the great war, the trench spreads like wildfire in all British clothing stores, thanks to its practicality of use in the long rainy days.

What made the garment so long-lived? Surely practicality of use and design always elegant and current, which never goes out of fashion, but also a historical relationship with the cinema that has helped to bring the trench into the common imaginary as a symbol of timeless style. It was 1942 when Michael Curtiz presented to the whole world what would become one of the most important Hollywood films of all time: Casablanca. And it is in this film that we see a very elegant Humphrey Bogart defining the stylistic foundations of the contemporary gentleman.



Courtesy Warner Bros.

Bogart was not among the most beautiful actors in the Hollywood industry, what distinguished him from his colleagues, however, was the style, a wardrobe so special and innovative that helped to make it the “bad boy” most loved by women. How can we forget the moving final scene where Bogart and Ingrid Bergman say goodbye to the airport? Since the 1920s, the link between fashion and cinema has become a strategic way of communicating true style messages through stage costumes. In those years Greta Garbo is one of the first to wear the trench coat on the set of Destiny (1928): the visibility of the trench in the cinema is therefore initially of a female character and there were numerous women who wore it: Marlene Dietrich, Katharine Hepburn , Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren, up to the final scene of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, the cornerstone of the cinema-fashion combination.


The pink panther

Courtesy United Artists

It was 1961, Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard were kissing in the rain in the final scene of the film, both wearing a trench coat. There are numerous leaders who feature the film noir of classic American cinema, but none of them has had a long life as the trench. In 1960 we see Jack Lemmon walking through the streets of New York wrapped in his khaki trench coat in The apartment, a few years later it will be the turn of Alain Delon who plays the sexiest serial killer of all time in the Face of Angel, also him with a trench coat. The leader’s advance will be transferred to comedies, this is the case of Inspector Clouseau in The Pink Panther, played by a master Peter Sellers who will develop a real trademark with his trench coat.


Alexander McQueen

Courtesy Alexander McQueen

What is the secret of this garment that has become a true icon between fashion and cinema? The trench coat can be worn in several contexts, it can be worn by the English royal family or Meryl Streep in Kramer versus Kramer (1979) and more recently in Il diavolo veste Prada (2006). His success in the popular imagination is certainly thanks to Burberry, who has been able to reinvent it to make it a true best seller. Even today the Burberry trench coats are made in Castleford, a city in the north of England. Three weeks of work are required to pack each piece. There are more than 100 tailoring processes, each of which is highly specialized in ensuring the quality of the world’s most famous raincoat.



Courtesy Burberry

The most complicated of all is the collar, for which the tailors take about a year to learn how to sew it, the method used is still the traditional one that the company, in line with its ideal of English classicism, brings for over 100 years. The trench coat has retained its potential of use for various occasions, and can be worn as an element of a perfect office look, or on a mid-season evening. This is why so many designers have added it to their collections by varying lengths and patterns.

This year’s fashion shows have marked a great return of the trench coat, reworked for the occasion in different keys, from the most classic to the innovative ones. Alexander McQueen proposes a double color trench coat for a young strong and trendy, Givenchy focuses on the skin in an olive green shade contrasted with a black belt. Stella McCartney relies on English tradition and proposes a cream, blue and brown tartan patterned trench coat with cream-colored geometric finishes. The Belgian Dries Van Noten applies a sophisticated print that is inspired by the ancient painting technique Ebru, also called “marbling”, of decoration on paper.



Courtesy Burberry

And Burberry? The last fashion show of the English fashion house coincided with the debut of the Italian designer Riccardo Tisci, for the occasion the streetwear magician caught the British tradition, proposing it in a more urban key. On the catwalk were presented three trenches, a sleeveless, a classic model adapted for the occasion with writings from the street world, and a double brown and black color. In short, the fashion of the trench is experiencing a real rebirth, whether linked to new trends or to an immortal Hollywood image. But it is not enough to wear it, it should be brought with a certain ease, as Bogart taught us.





















































































































































































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