The journey of the trench from a wartime staple to a runway classic.
The trench coat is one of this season’s must-have items
Let’s talk about the humble beginnings of the trench coat: What started from ground zero (literally) quickly rose to fashion prominence through the magical power of reinvention. Designed by Thomas Burberry in 1914, the water-resistant coat was created to protect World War I soldiers from the rain in the trenches. Since then, few tweaks have been made to the design of this iconic garment. To this day, a trench coat is still often made of hardy gabardine (a fabric that was also invented by Thomas Burberry, back in 1879); features belts, buckles and epaulettes; and is highly regarded as a versatile piece of clothing worn by men and women alike.
But that’s where all similarities end: The rise and rise of the trench to iconic status is truly the stuff of legend. And it has Hollywood to thank for it. The trench coat’s ascent can be credited to several seminal celluloid masterpieces, including Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Casablanca, where Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly and Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine wore trench coats in their dramatic final scenes. The same goes for legendary heist and detective movies—from The Pink Panther to The Thomas Crown Affair, each of these heroes’ suave style wouldn’t be complete without a trench in hand. In recent years, Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine hinged on Cate Blanchett’s Oscar-winning performance as a rags-to-riches-to-rags woman on the verge of a breakdown. Clutching onto her past glory, her trench came to represent her former life of luxury.
Within the fashion vernacular, trench coats were given a whole new meaning this spring/ summer 2018. In response to our current tumultous times, designers sent many iterations of trench coats down the runway, reflecting their hopes for a safer environment. Likened to a piece of armour, this foolproof investment item not only looks chic, but is built to last longer than a season. It’s the very definition of classic style, a fashion staple that elevates any outfit.
Of course, for Burberry, a trench coat is no mere trend but part of the House’s DNA. The English brand’s latest edit of its Heritage Trench Coats comprises three fits, two lengths and five colours: The Chelsea, a slim-fit number with narrow shoulders and a nipped-in waist for women, and a clean-cut silhouette with rounded shoulders for men; the Kensington, a classic-fit with a streamlined silhouette for women, and a neat silhouette and squared shoulders for men; and the Westminster, which comes in tropical gabardine, a tumbled fabric that highlights the relaxed-fit silhouette.
Style icons like Jane Birkin and Kate Moss prefer to wear theirs belted and paired with knee-high boots. Supermodel sisters Gigi and Bella Hadid wear theirs with a t-shirt, jeans and combat boots. Whether dressed up or down, belted up or left undone, the trench coat is one fashion ally you can always count on.
Clockwise from top: Burberry’s Heritage Trench Coats collection features modern details and fresh styling. The Westminster. The Kensington. The Chelsea. Gigi Hadid in a laminated trench coat from the runway.
PHOTOGRAPHY: TPGVIP/CLICK PHOTOS; COURTESY OF