Left to right: Sportsmax Resort 2018, Alexander McQueen Resort 2018, Fendi Resort 2018. Photos: BusinessTimes
If you need any proof as to what the standout piece of this resort season is, look no further than Meghan Markle. The actress and soon-to-be royal clinched it with her white Canadian label Line trench coat that she wore at her engagement photo call with Prince Harry.
Once the garb of military officers from WWI when Thomas Burberry created this water-repellent gabardine coat to protect them from wind and rain, the classic trench has over the decades evolved to become both fashion and social statement.
Post-war, the trench coat appeared in Hollywood as the uniform of gruff detectives, gangsters and femme fatales. Thanks to the likes of Greta Garbo in A Woman of Affairs and Katharine Hepburn (who wore an oversized trench coat in The Iron Petticoat), the trench coat became a veritable symbol of women's emancipation.
While women wore it for years as an assertion of gender equality, it wasn't till Breakfast at Tiffany's when Audrey Hepburn's Holly Golightly paired her custom-made Burberry coat with a head scarf, polo t-shirt and herringbone skirt that it really came out of the shadow of masculinity and embraced its feminine side.
Today, designers continue to seek fresh ways to inject femininity into this former military staple.
Left to right: Cotton twill trench coat with detachable sleeves,$4,152, by Calvin Klein, Net-a-porter.com. Patent leather trench coat, price unavailable, by Burberry. Lace trench coat,$2,155, Sacai from Farfetch.com. Photos: BusinessTimes
Deconstruction played a prominent role this season, with Valentino playing with shoulder cut-outs that prove you can still be sexy even as temperatures fall.
One of the most notable looks comes from British label Palmer Harding. Central Saint Martins alumni Levi Palmer and Matthew Harding are known for their flair in experimental tailoring and dramatic silhouettes, particularly with shirts. For the resort collection, they transferred that same expertise to trench coats - creating stellar pieces such as a black trench with removable buttoned sections to let you style your own lapel; and a dark khaki trench with detachable sleeves.
Left to right: Nina Ricci Resort 2018, Palmer Harding Resort 2018, Valentino Resort 2018. Photos: BusinessTimes
Classic tastes would probably head to Céline and Alexander McQueen. But even a khaki classic from McQueen has a generous dose of feminine flair, thanks to its patchwork floral pattern.
For a touch of colour, Fendi, Sportmax and Nina Ricci are right on point. Pretty colour washes, like Sportmax's crinkled pale pink version or Fendi's mink-collared yellow stunner, would have made the Golightly cut. Meanwhile, Nina Ricci opts for full-on desirability by styling a baby blue tulle skirt with an oversized trench coat, reminiscent of a modern-day Grace Kelly.
And back to the royal subject, Megan Markle's choice of trench coat (as opposed to any other coat) on such an important occasion speaks volumes for a woman known for her independent streak. And with the trench coat having such strong British roots, it was a subtle display of patriotic kinship with her fiancé, affirming her place as a worthy royal-to-be.
This article was first published on The Business Times.