Stuart Vevers is in a psychedelic mood this season. “I’m loving colour, light, optimism,” he tells Vogue ahead of the Coach AW19 show during New York Fashion Week. “I wanted a collection that really celebrated colour.”
The luxury American brand may have a long history in the leather goods trade (78 years, to be precise), but clothing remains relatively new turf. Key to Vevers’ success in building the label’s ready-to-wear identity is his ability to explore the idea of American craft in new and exciting ways each season.
For AW19, he has teamed up with the American textile designer and artist Kaffe Fassett, and they’re looking to the West Coast for inspiration. The result is a riot of colour, every stitch an ode to Americana. “I think it’s the way we constructed the dresses and the prints themselves that feel like a departure,” he says, “something new for us. [While still] exploring the idea of American craft through the quilt, needlepoint, embroidery, lace trims and details.”
Another Coach constant – that star-studded front row – also helps. “Kaffe will be there, of course; Michael B. Jordan, he wants something from the collection so I’m seeing what pieces we have for him; Chloë Grace Moretz, who was also at our show in Shanghai in December,” the designer reels off. “I’m excited.”
Other high-profile fans like Maisie Williams, Iris Law, Joan Smalls, Paloma Elsesser, Camila Morrone, Dylan Sprouse, Jon Batiste, and Jackson and Satchel Lee are also expected.
Here, Vevers talks exclusively to Vogue about his new show venue, the power of colour and channeling Fassett’s West Coast aesthetic.
Why colour matters
“I was thinking about the power of psychedelic experiences to change your point of view and open your mind. And how sometimes that relinquishing of control can really open [you] up to a more heightened and enhanced relationship with colour, nature and emotion. Kaffe [Fassett] often talks about the power of colour to change our lives, so I wanted to translate that into dressing.”
Working with Kaffe Fassett, a master of colour
“I did the classic roadtrip from LA to San Francisco, and that led me to the work of Kaffe Fassett. His style has that kind of West Coast aesthetic authority that I was really drawn to. I was fortunate enough that he was into the idea of working together, so we chose prints directly from his archive; some we kept very close to the original, some we recoloured with him. He’s also known for his quilts, his needlepoint and knitwear, so we took references from all of those to create the prints that run all the way through the collection.”
On grounding outerwear in real, authentic American references
“This season sees a return to more authentic, robust, cool American outerwear. We played with our signature material, shearling, and colour, layering it so that there’s colour coming through the material, but in an almost worn way. Elsewhere, our signature Coach print is laid over the top of the shearling, giving it a tougher attitude. We’ve also played with a lot of lightweight leather too, in bright colours, always with a muted, tarnished feeling so they still feel authentic. And there’s a series of military pieces that are all printed with Kaffe Fassett prints, which give the [garments] a real immediacy.”
On bringing print and colour to leather
“There is something quite graphic and structural about bags this season too; a sportiness. We’ve combined prints and colour into our leather goods; printing the leather, playing with textural components and then embossing and debossing the prints. It gives a very Coach feeling to something that’s quite elevated.”
How he’s making tailoring his own
“We’re dismantling and reassembling dress codes from music subcultures. Within tailoring we have a lot of checks, which give the collection more attitude. We’ve given it a graphic treatment with black against the plaid, and trimmed the crombie and car coats with quite shiny, textural leather, creating very graphic borders, which give them a toughness while still feeling beautiful and cool.”
The reason behind his NYFW venue change
“What I love about it [new showspace, the American Stock Exchange] is that it has these massive windows where we can really let the daylight flood in; I really wanted to celebrate colour with natural daylight. There’s a moment within the show where we play with prismatic mirrors, glittering lights and spinning sculptures to create rainbow, psychedelic lights.”