Coach favours fun over formality at New York Fashion Week showcasing collection of cocktail attire brimming with glitter and glitz

Emma McCarthy
Rex Features

A wild night out in downtown Manhattan served as fitting inspiration for Coach's latest showcase yesterday, as creative director Stuart Vevers put on the glitz at New York Fashion Week.

Presenting a star-spangled collection on a sparkling sidewalk setting, which featured lamp posts, trash cans and a Buick Electra covered entirely in glitter, Vevers provided party girls everywhere with cocktail attire that was far more fun than formal.

"It's shine and sparkle - and grit," said Vevers backstage after the show. "It was about the Coach girl dressing up, but I still wanted it to feel grounded and have that New York City attitude."

Keen to deliver precisely what the night owls of the city that never sleeps want in their wardrobes, the British designer sought inspiration from muse and transgender model Hari Nef. "Hari was at an event recently wearing one of our long prairie dresses and when the party got going she took it off and just wore the slip underneath. That really stuck in my mind when I was designing this collection."

As a result, silk slip dresses proved the Coach girl's after-dark staple for next season. They came decorated with lace details and jewel-encrusted straps, and layered over mesh t-shirts or under patchwork denim jackets with leopard print fur collars.

The late New York street artist Keith Haring also proved pivotal to the collection, with Vevers saying he had admired his work since he was a boy growing up in Doncaster.

Working in collaboration with Haring's estate, the artist's signature illustrations peppered the collection, appearing on intricately beaded skirts and embroidered into cropped suede jackets. "He's an artist for everybody and I feel that connects with Coach's values too," said the designer.

With the brand expected to reach sales of $5.9 billion in 2017, Vevers has succeeded in bringing a youthful energy to the brand, which was founded in 1941, along with a new generation of shoppers since he joined in 2013.

Leading his loyal fanbase of millennial It-girls is Selena Gomez. With some 126 million Instagram followers, the social-superstar was signed by the brand to design her own line earlier this year.

It's proven a canny move, with her recently launched Selena Grace bag quickly becoming the brand's top seller. Gomez sat front row at yesterday's showcase alongside Emma Roberts, Charlie XCX and James Franco.

Riding high from his CFDA Award win for Accessories Designer of the Year in June, Vevers was keen to tread new territory in his latest collection, adding: "Now that I have established the identity of the Coach girl and guy, it means that I can start to explore different ideas."

This translated on the catwalk in a collection which had a different flavour to previous seasons, as he infused his signature all-American nostalgia with a dose of after-party cool.

Not forgetting Coach's heritage as a leather goods brand, western-style suede shirts, leather varsity jackets and metallic cowboy boots made for dancing rounded off Vevers' ode to the city he now calls home.

The brand also launched a re-edition of its classic Mailbox Bag, first created by American designer Bonnie Cashin in 1972. Inspired by the mailboxes seen in suburban America, Coach released a limited edition range of 300 bags online, available in 5 colours and adorned with a Keith Haring graphic keyring, immediately after the show.

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