The trench coat defines the term timeless classic. Originating in the 19th century and later becoming a Hollywood mainstay, the trench is as much a wardrobe icon as the little black dress.
There is some debate as to the invention of this outerwear staple. Thomas Burberry created a unique, water-repellant wool material in the 1870’s, later utilizing it in durable dusters for British army officers in the early 1900’s. However, it is also said that Aquascutum invented the garment during the Crimean War decades earlier. Both manufactured the style for World Wars I and II, often modified to include shoulder straps and D-rings. It was rumored that the coats may have been utilized to hold precious maps, secret papers, and even weapons.
Trench coats remained in high demand for both the military and civilians after the wars passed. London Fog gained popularity as one of America’s favorite brands, and silver screen stars sported the look as gangsters, inspectors, and star-crossed lovers. Who could forget Peter Sellers in the Pink Panther, Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca, or Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard in Breakfast at Tiffany’s?
Original double-breasted trench coats sported ten front buttons, a back storm flap, wide waist belts, and lapels. The look morphs this fall season into wonderfully surprising fabrics and styles. In leather, wool, mohair, poplin, synthetics, real and faux fur, the trench coat now transcends the combat zone and evokes a range of muses. Today, each designer – and each wearer – may put their own stamp on this timeless classic.
Trench Coats On The Runway
The classic reinvented in Bordeaux, at Burberry.
Emilio Pucci shows a cool, double-breasted rendition.
Ferragamo’s take is timeless in winter white.
Paired with leather, this trench is pure Versace.
Shop The Trend
London Fog’s sleek, faux silk trench ($90) is available in Spruce and Black.
From Mango, a modern take on the coat ($190) brings to mind a stylish spy.
Casablanca image via ManhattanInfidel.com; Breakfast at Tiffany’s image via Fanpop.com. All additional images, credit individual designers and retailers.