THE TRENCH COAT

No one looks the same in a trench coat. Each person gets to stamp their own signature on the look, whilst borrowing its crisp, classic form. Originally a military uniform worn by army officers, designed with details to aid soldiers through the travails of wind, rain and the conditions of trench warfare, the trench coat found its way into the realms of high style, and persists today as a garment of elegance and functionality for both men and women.

“The Trench Coat was once a uniform, now it is a badge of Individuality.”
Aquascutum

Audrey Hepburn and Hubert de Givenchy, Paris, 1982, photographed by Jacques Scandelar.

Audrey Hepburn and Hubert de Givenchy, Paris, 1982, photographed by Jacques Scandelar.

“Each feature on a trench coat has been specifically designed for a reason. The epaulettes were added to display the rank of the officers while the storm shield, found on the upper back, enabled water to run off the coat and keep the wearer dry. A pleat was also featured on the back which allowed for ease of movement when running or on horseback.”
— Style History: The Burberry Trench Coat

The drive to develop fabrics for the manufacture of outerwear that protected one against the elements, began in the 1800’s.   Linda Rodriguez McRobbie  writing in the Smithsonian explains that as early as 1823, Scotsman Charles Macintosh invented a “rubberized cotton” and made outer garments called “macks,” that were worn by the military and civilians.

In 1853, British clothier John Emary, developed a better fabric, still weatherproof but more breathable, and appropriately renamed his company Aquascutum: “aqua” meaning “water” and “scutum” meaning “shield” in Latin.

It was in 1879, that Thomas Burberry, English gentlemen’s outfitter, invented “gabardine,” a “weatherproofed twill” that began the design development of the iconic Burberry trench coat. As a 2016 festive offering Burberry released a glamorous short film, directed by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Asif Kapadia that tells The Tale of Thomas Burberry.  

Kate Moss for Burberry, 1999

Kate Moss for Burberry, 1999

“Embodying a certain cool, effortless, sexy feel with hints of masculinity…. A piece that will never date and a piece that will epitomise chic elegance no matter how you choose to wear it. Simply put, it is a classic to suit every woman.”

— Vogue (Australia)