During Fashion Week, usually the day after a show, the Wallpaper* team visits showrooms to see the collections up close. I touch the fabrics, and try things on to see how they feel. I ask lots of questions, way too complicated for most PR teams to answer, which is why I prefer to talk to the designers themselves. It’s there that I start my list of must-haves for the season ahead.
Top of the Picked by Picky Nicky list right now is a double-breasted, doublefaced coat, in merino wool or cashmere, cut from two fabrics that have been woven on a loom together. The two layers are usually the same, but can be different shades and are lightly connected by a binding weft. The garment is tailored with a hand-finishing technique that separates the two layers just enough at the edges and hem, around 2cm, before the raw edges are turned back under themselves to close the seams, giving a perfect finish inside and out.
The double-faced structure means that jackets and coats can be tailored without the need for any shoulder padding, stiffening and, generally, lining (although a skinny sleeve might have a light lining to assist in getting it on with ease). So the entire coat – give or take a few buttons and a label – is made of just the one piece of cloth, inside and out.
To enthuse about such sartorial matters, I turn to designer Alessandro Sartori, my favourite fellow quality maniac, who happens to work for Ermenegildo Zegna, a house that mills its own cloth and has been producing double-faced fabric for 100 years. For Sartori, when fitting a garment, there is ‘a dream point’, achieved through working down to the millimetre, where he can create a sharp shape without any padding. A coat in Ermenegildo Zegna’s 300g Century cashmere is ‘almost weightless’, he says, ‘like a second skin’. Pair it with a silk T-shirt in spring and autumn, or a sweater in winter and, Sartori says, it can be worn for up to ten months of the year, giving plenty of wear per euro.
I have a two-button blazer in doublefaced wool from Raf Simons’ era at Jil Sander and, nine or so years on, I keep wearing it. Half the looks in his A/W09 Jil Sander women’s show were in doublefaced cashmere, his tribute to the team at the brand’s Hamburg ateliers (which sadly shuttered around that period) that had tailored the brand’s classics for decades.
The statement of a spare, double-faced coat can’t really be beaten, for men or women. It is never too much nor too little. Inside and out, cut from one piece of very fine cloth, it’s the perfect expression of form and function.
Picked by Picky Nicky: the season’s best double-faced coats
Hermès: Véronique Nichanian’s leather-trimmed, wraparound, navy cashmere double-faced coat for Hermès has just the right amount of volume.
Helbers: Paul Helbers’ two-button, Crombie-style coat is cut from double-faced jersey, available in either heather grey or navy blue.
Louis Vuitton: Kim Jones’ double-faced vicuña trench.
Berluti: For his debut at Berluti, Haider Ackermann showed a supple and roomy coat in wool and cashmere. The men’s piece was modelled by Liya Kebede, which underlines how doublefaced works equally well for men and women.
Acne: The ‘Chad’ three-button, oversized coat in double-faced wool and cashmere.
As originally featured in the September 2017 issue of Wallpaper* (W*222)
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Also known as Picky Nicky, Nick Vinson has contributed to Wallpaper* Magazine for the past 21 years. He runs Vinson&Co, a London-based bureau specialising in creative direction and interiors for the luxury goods industry. As both an expert and fan of Made in Italy, he divides his time between London and Florence and has decades of experience in the industry as a critic, curator and editor.
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