Trend Watch: Tough Love

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From left to right: Cloak, Proenza Schouler, Burberry Prorsum (all Fall/Winter)
by Piera Gelardi and Christene Barberich
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Back in the day, you had to have plenty of attitude to sport the classic black leather motorcycle jacket. Good girls and guys didn't wear them, unless, maybe they were lucky enough to inherit one from a hell-raising older sibling who might have accidentally left it behind when they ran away from home.
There's a reason that confident, boxy shape, defined by a series of vertical chunky zippers, overlapping collars, and optional hip-slung belt first made an impression with rockers and other strong-minded trend-setters: It was the perfect marriage of function and fashion. With classic military stylings and its longwearing leather, even the earliest designs for motorcycle riding in the 1920s and 1930s showed signs of one-day becoming a garment icon. And when the king of the road, Harley Davidson, released its freedom-fighting Cycle Champ and Cycle Queen designs in the 1940s, the motorcycle jacket's fashion fate was sealed. It wasn't just for the open road—it was for the wild at heart.
Today, designers like Patrik Ervell, Cloak, Burberry, and Filippa K have all conceived their own spins on this rebel classic for guys and girls. But at their fall show, it was Proenza Schouler who captured more than just the fresh new look of the design—they got the spirit of it, too, showing their own brand of rebellion by pairing up the pretty with the tough. Cocktail dresses were topped by harder-edged jackets fashioned with cropped, wide sleeves, dramatic collars, and longer, hip-skimming shapes. The duo also paid homage to the traditional with short black leather. The mere act of throwing it on over a chiffon gown might feel taboo, but at its heart, that's what a motorcycle jacket is all about.
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From left to right: Filippa K, Belstaff (both Spring/Summer), Patrik Ervell (Fall/Winter)
For Spring/Summer: Filippa K jacket, $1,299, available at Atrium and at Tsubi in New York and Scout in Los Angeles; Belstaff New Panther leather jacket, available through Belstaff (+39-041-5972311). For Fall/Winter: Cloak is available at Cloak and Opening Ceremony in New York; Proenza Schouler is available at Kirna Zabete in New York and Barneys New York in New York and Los Angeles; Burberry is available at Burberry stores worldwide; Patrik Ervell is available at Opening Ceremony in New York and American Rag in Los Angeles (126 1/2 S La Brea Avenue, 323-935-3154).
If you were too young to rock a motorcycle jacket in the '80s, you're in luck. For fall, designers have cast this once boxy—but still badass—style with a fresh eye to proportion, texture, and details. No Triumph required.
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