Michael Kors Big Coat [Photo Source]

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This article is from our Fashion-Insider Angela Krewenchuk. Angela provides Retail Insider with fashion updates on the latest trends with her own unique and knowledgeable fashion perspective

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Greetings Dear Readers,

Today, I am going to discuss a fashion look near and dear to my heart. The Cocoon Coat (pictured above) has had many different reincarnations over the decades since its 1957 inception designed by Cristobal Balenciaga. This is a seminal fashion garment. 

In the 1980’s the original concept of Balenciaga’s 1957 Cocoon coat was renamed simply “the BIG coat” or “Men’s Wear Inspired Fashion” made iconic earlier by Dianne Keaton in several Woody Allen movies. Below is an example of a vintage menswear coat from the 1980’s that was recently sold on Etsy.

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Notice that the structure of the 1980’s reinterpretation of the original 1957 Balenciaga Cocoon coat is less structured giving an aesthetic nod to Dianne Keaton’s groundbreaking Men’s Wear Style made famous in the classic 1977 movie Annie Hall.

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Indeed, Dianne Keaton was a fashion revolutionary who paved the way for the mainstreaming and popular acceptance of women adopting traditionally tailored menswear. It is worth noting here for Millennial readers that when women entered the workforce en masse in the 1970’s and 1980’s the corporate climate necessitated that they eradicate all traces of their femininity in order to achieve professional credibility. Sadly, the belief at that time was that breasts and business did not mix. Therefore, breasts, hips, and hourglass waistlines had to be obstructed from view as to prevent inappropriate sexual advances from boorish office mates. The implication was that neither sex was capable of exercising restraint and professional decorum when left to their own devices in the workforce. Thus, necessitating a protective fashion suit of armour to provide physical restraint from an overabundance of carnal desire. 

Fast forward to the past three fashion seasons where the BIG COAT has re-emerged as a dominant fashion narrative. I will admit that I have fought off this look for slightly over two seasons citing,“who on earth wants to obscure the hard earned shapes many of us have achieved from a lean protein, high fiber , low carb diet augmented through disciplined fitness BEHIND A SHAPELESS GARMENT”like a BIG coat.

However, I have been worn down and through a convergence of several variables have grown to appreciate the BIG COAT. For FW 2013-2014 large outerwear featured prominently on the runways of Rochas, Carven, Isa Arfen, Lacoste, and Michael Kors to name just a few. I have seen the look diffuse to the mass retail market and just yesterday saw a pleasing plumb colored big DKNY coat retailing for under $200.00. Some of the merits of the big coat are as follows. The big coat is cozy and provides protection from harsh winter elements, one can snuggle in a cocoon like big coat on a subway commute and still be assured that they are fashionable rather than frumpy. The big coat is every ladies best friend after a brief lapse in gym attendance followed by a high carb salt infused diet. Lastly, the big coat is now accessible in every price point and will remain relevant for at least the next two FW seasons. Below are images of several Big coats that hit the runway this season.

Lacoste Big Coat [Image Source]

Carven Big Coat [Image Source]

Isa Arfen Big Coat [Image Source]

After you have had a chance to gaze at these coats I urge you to take a moment to appreciate their aesthetic lineage and the fact that this look originated in 1957 by Cristobal Balenciaga and was re-adapted in the 1970’s by Dianne Keaton and mainstreamed in the 1980’s when women entered the workforce. I believe it is also imperative to mention in this conversation that – in 2006, after 10 years as the creative lead of Balenciaga, Nicholas Ghesquiere finally gained access to the Balenciaa achieves. In what I consider one of Ghesquiere’s top three runway presentations he revealed his modern reinterpretation of the seminal cocoon coat.

Image Nicholas guesquiere cocoon coat 2006 [Image Source]

I will admit to having an even deeper appreciation for Ghesquiere’s creative ingenuity and emphatically assert that he is a modern day designer genius. Ghesquiere is the first designer to bring the public’s attention back to the Cocoon coat after its demise in the late 1980’s. Furthermore, he had the foresight to imagine the fashion relevance of Winter White which attained mainstream credibility 7 years later and is now all over the runway for FW 2013-2014.

In closing here are a few pointers for if  you want to recreate the Big Coat, Cocoon, look for yourself.

1.   A big coat demands a small bottom, skinny jeans, a short skirt, a pencil skirt, a long fitted skirt, as long as the proportions on the bottom are in stark contrast to the oversize top. Do not pair a big coat with wide legged jeans or flowing skirts. Sure the odd person can pull it off but this is not in general a flattering silhouette –especially, for those five foot five and under. I know from personal experience.

2.   A big coat demands a big shoe or boot. Stay away from dainty ladylike footwear. A platform shoe such as those shown on the Stella McCartney runway will set this look off in a very, very, flattering way. Such footwear will give you height and an assertive way to ground this look. With large outerwear on top your legs are showcased to best effect the longer they appear to be by any  and all means necessary.

3.   The large coat aesthetic is starting to diffuse to easily accessible lines this season. However, it is possible to find examples of this look at a thrift store. Just keep in mind that it is likely that most vintage renditions will require the touch of a talented tailor. I recently found a GORGEOUS vintage bright red Alpaca and Wool version circa the early 1980’s but have the expectation that the $29.00 coat will require slightly over $100 in tailoring to have the shoulder-pads removed and some of the unflattering bulk trimmed down. I advise you to bring a few images of this seasons large coat with you when consulting with your tailor so that they have a clear idea of what you want.

Good luck in your effort to recreate this look for yourself. I firmly believe that the Big Coat will be relevant for at least the next two FW seasons beyond this one. So, if you are inspired by the aesthetic I advise with full confidence that it is one worth investing in.

Ciao dear readers!