There’s been no shortage of nostalgia in fashion lately, be it a newfound obsession with all things Y2K or the enduring interest in ‘90s era grunge. Still, when Coach prefaced its Spring/Summer 2023 show, held at the historic Park Avenue Armory, with a wistful montage of actors in clean-cut 1940s-esque garb enjoying an evening on the boardwalk, the references felt different enough to instantly capture my attention. Sure, a midcentury aesthetic is hardly breaking, but it was a lovely departure after severals days of visually overloading on slashed up tube tops and baggy cargo pants.
Indeed, it seems that finding novelty in the past is something of a theme for Coach this season. As the stage players exited the scene, the room filled with bright light and beat-driven music as the first models walked out in a series of structured, oversize jackets, both in leather and a nubby distressed fabric. Chunky, purposefully darned knitwear came next, as well as a series of puff sleeve babydoll tea dresses and striped, varsity-chic separates that are sure to delight the label’s swelling Gen Z fan base. Paired with beaded pendants decorated with bits of ephemera (keys, friendship charms, even little wooden skulls), the outfits all had a vague air of old pieces from myriad eras one found in a vintage store and remixed in new ways.
“With Spring, I wanted to evolve notions of luxury that place an emphasis on perfection,” says creative director Stuart Vevers. “Inspired by the next generation’s fluid approach to fashion, the collection celebrates pieces that become more beautiful the more they are worn and loved, and references to the past rediscovered in the present.”
Then, of course, there were the handbags. The American house has always found success with its carryalls — from its minimalist purses circa the 1970s to its early ‘00s logo shoulder styles — but the last few years have been particularly fruitful for the label, thanks in no small part to the viral popularity of its Tabby silhouette with the Tik Tok crowd. (Fun fact: The name comes from its prominent tab design detail in the front.) This season saw two fresh iterations on the style: a colorful jelly version (just the thing to match with the collection’s line-up of matching sandals) and a messenger bag shape that’s sure to replace backpacks amongst the coolest kids on college campuses.
Really, the selection of looks were inventive, playful, and fun enough to capture a good amount of buzz. But good was clearly not good enough for Coach, which had one more major debut up its sleeve: new global brand ambassador Lil Nas X, who closed out the catwalk presentation in a matching leather vest and shirts with clear purple fisherman sandals. It’s a look I’d certainly wear given the chance. Now, let’s see if the rest of the world agrees.