For Coach’s Fall 2018 fashion week show, creative director Stuart Vevers transformed a pier off of the East River in Manhattan into an enchanted, eerie forest. The entire space was pitch-black except for a few dim lights that hung from the ceiling. The runway was covered with dry, crispy leaves. Sparse, empty tree stumps lined the runway. But what appeared even more sinister were the handful of tube television sets left scattered throughout the forest.
To signal the start of the show, the TV sets began to flash distorted imagery accompanied by jarring, loud white noise. Out of the darkness came models dressed in long leather coats, suede jackets, teddy-bear shearling jackets in shades of lavender and brown. Tiered, maxi, prairie dresses in bandana, daisy, and rose prints were the key dress silhouette, and many of them had skinny, long, velvety bows along the necklines.
Although there were glimpses of shimmer and metallics that helped brighten up the runway, overall the color palette was dark and moody. Coach’s signature Western shirts and leather jackets received a new update featuring whipstitches and studs. For jewelry, the models wore potion-bottle necklaces and mood and gemstone rings. The women’s hair was parted in the middle, appearing stringy and oily as if unwashed.
The show notes describe the collection as having a “spectral charm: goth and supernatural” and a “toughness” that “makes for a twisted, dark romance.” However, many editors had a different take, each referencing a different pop culture, supernatural-themed film or TV show.
On Instagram stories, Eva Chen described how the models in the show would “definitely be Durmstrang. … If you aren’t a Potterhead, you’ll have no idea what I’m talking about.” “Durmstrang” refers to a Scandinavian wizard school in the Harry Potter novels. Alyssa Coscarelli of Refinery29 referenced Twilight, perhaps due to the show’s spooky vampire vibes, whereas Fashionista’s Maura Brannigan was quick to point out the forest’s strong resemblance to the one in Stranger Things. Personally, my pop culture reference is a bit outdated, as I had originally called out the 1999 film The Blair Witch Project.
But whether you agree or disagree with these references, there is no doubt that Vevers has been able to create nostalgia for films and shows that live within a realm of magic. Perhaps it appeals to the escapist in us, with what’s going on around us with #MeToo, politics, and women’s rights. However, at a time when designers are leaving New York for other fashion week cities or dropping off the official calendar entirely, it is refreshing to see a fashion show that can still create such a quick and diverse set of strong reactions.
As you wait for the collection to drop in stores and online this fall, perhaps it’s time to binge-watch these cult-favorite films and shows.
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