The scene in Notting Hill when Julia Roberts collides with Hugh Grant and his orange juice is memorable not only for kicking off one of the most enduring love stories in 90s movie history, but also for immortalising one of the era’s most definitive looks.
Dressed in baggy jeans, a white (later orange) t-shirt, a beret, teeny-weeny sunnies and a long line black leather blazer, Roberts – as Anna Scott – was the epitome of nineties nonchalance.
More than a fictional off-duty actress’s uniform however, Roberts’ androgynous leather blazer was a much-loved staple of real-life ‘90s It girls, models and actresses, with Reese Witherspoon, Cyndi Crawford and Winona Wyder among the fans.
And now, the cult cover up is having an autumn 2020 renaissance.
Social media super-heavyweights Bella Hadid and Kaia Gerber have rocked theirs with crop tops, baggy jeans and tiny sunnies while Hailey Bieber and Irina Shayk slung theirs over skimpy minis and lug-soled stomper boots. A scroll through Instagram reveals every minimalist fashion influencer worth her mettle has already invested, which goes some way to explain why Google has seen searches for “leather blazer” surge 152 per cent since this time last year.
Best worn sleek and oversized, with minimal (if any) zips and hardware, these are jackets more akin in silhouette to sharp suiting than they are to anything we wore in the Kate Moss for Topshop years.
“It’s a trend we have definitely bought into,” says Heather Gramston, womenswear buying manager at Browns Fashion. “We’ve seen an increasing number of designers add leather blazers to their collections as an evolution of tailoring and an extension from the classic leather biker jacket. When you mix leather with a blazer it can only give a chic result.
Libby Page, senior fashion market editor at Net-a-Porter, agrees that the appeal lies in the loose-yet-structured fit: “It makes this piece perfect for work and everyday too, as well as a great transitional dressing staple — heavy enough to provide warmth, but not as heavy as a coat.”
The leather blazer’s versatility and its ability to slip seamlessly into your wardrobe is truly its trump card. Layer over roll necks and jeans à la Sliding Doors-era Gwyneth Paltrow for outdoor social engagements, or pair with a satin slip dress for an easy housemate-date-night look. For the sartorially daring, a full leather jacket and trousers ensemble is autumn 2020’s outlandish answer to double denim. Among the pick of the brands is Italian label The Attico’s single-breasted black leather jacket (£1,305, BrownsFashion.co.uk) and Danish brand Stand Studio’s longer-length version (£635, BrownsFashion.co.uk). Alternatively Arket, & Other Stories and Weekday all offer excellent oversized iterations at more purse-friendly prices.
For the truly dedicated fashion follower — with deeper pockets — Gucci’s glossy red blazer (£3,100, Net-a-Porter.com) is quite the Tier 2 blues-brightening statement piece. Wrangling with the ethics of leather production? Luxury vegan label Nanushka, the go-to for faux leather, has a shiny black wooden-buttoned option (£650, Net-a-Porter.com) while other brands The Frankie Shop, A.W.A.K.E. MODE, Anouki and Materiel have all added excellent cruelty-free cover-ups to their range.
The most sustainable options are, of course, to be found on resale sites such as Vestiaire Collective and DePop, where those prepared to hunt a little will unearth Nineties originals aplenty. And for anyone cautious to commit, rental platform Rotaro has a lovely pink long-line blazer from Matériel Tbilisi and a belted mint green number from House of Sunny, both available to rent for £35 and £15 per day respectively. Whichever pelt you plump for, a leather blazer’s an investment piece that’ll work hard in your wardrobe right through this bleak winter and into spring – just watch out for that handsome man with the orange juice.