by Christene Barberich
As fail-safe as the little black dress, more versatile than a white tee, a perfect can't-live-without-it jacket has become every woman's quick fix for pulling it all together. Depending on the objective, the right one can polish up a look or dress it down (without forfeiting the edge) instantly. Partners Andrea Lenczner and Christie Smythe saw the beauty—and possibilities—in such a tried-and-true silhouette, and, hence, built an entire label around it with a number of fresh interpretations. "We always knew we wanted to do something together, and when we decided to start, we immediately thought about doing a jacket collection," says Andrea. "It was very much 'yes, of course!"
Both designers have acquired a range of experience in fashion (Christie studied at Parsons and has worked at Prada, Celine, and the Gap; Andrea was a buyer for Holt Renfrew), but the two settled on a more focused path for their own venture. "We don't like the idea of prescribing what a woman wears from head to toe," says Andrea. "And in this way we weren't interested in producing a full collection with looks. The jacket is such a critical piece in every woman's wardrobe, [both] an emotional and versatile piece, one that can bring it all together and finish any look, leaving the interpretation up to the individual. We also wanted to do one thing and do it well, to become experts in a category."
So far, so good. The collection is succinct, but each design evokes its own voice and vibe. Among the standouts, the Courtesan is a stretch linen design with a detachable bust insert (minus the insert, it can be worn over a white tank or shirt with the neckline cutting below the bust). The Utility plays on classic military cuts, but in clean stone-paper cotton accented with metal grommets it offers a fresh variation on the indispensable weekend jacket. Other pieces include a boxy vintage-inspired cardi style and a sweet Sailor style in crisp white. As with a good pair of shoes, one jacket really is never enough.
The perfect little jacket is the new-old finishing touch on everything from tailored trousers to a slinky gown, and the designers behind Smythe Les Vestes have an entire collection to prove it.