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December 1, 2012

Men’s Runway Report: Shear Impact

By Chris Boyle

Ermenegildo ZegnaCalvin Klein / Bottega VenetaCostume National / Yves Saint LaurentTrussardi / Jean Paul GaultierParis, France—Reported by Jessica Michault for Elite Traveler, the private jet lifestyle magazine

The arrival of the shearling coat as the must-buy outerwear investment of the season has been a long time coming. The style has gradually crept back into favor with menswear designers who have helped the look evolve from a 1970s throwback to one of soft sophistication.

Shearling is a material that plays nicely with others. It can have a strong effect on a design even when it is used sparingly, and it can be easily molded to fit into almost any aesthetic.

Despite this versatility, shearling is perhaps most often paired with leather coats cut in the bomber style, an aviator approach embraced by Hermès and Dior Homme this season. This tried and true style is a rather safe option, and it would be a shame not to take advantage of some of the other, more unexpected shearling choices on offer this winter.

At Ermenegildo Zegna, trench coats were given a twist thanks to shearling embellishments, and shearling lining made oversized knit cardigans look even cozier. Designer Tomas Maier at Bottega Veneta went with a textural take on the classic double-breasted winter coat by letting his shearling keep its natural nubby appearance. While at Calvin Klein, the brand’s menswear designer Italo Zucchelli updated the classic hooded sweatshirt by cutting it in the sturdy material.

Ennio Capasa, whose passion for surprising textile combinations has been well documented, presented white patent leather and shearling jackets that were both cool and, due to the use of patent, no-nonsense. Unlike shearling jackets left in their original state, it’s hard to damage or stain a patent-treated version, which is particularly important if you plan on purchasing one of the designer’s creamy white Costume National styles.

Some of the most classic interpretations came from Stefano Pilati in his final menswear show for Yves Saint Laurent. His choice to subtly extend the shearling-covered lapels on his perfecto jackets made the iconic style look new, a good portent for the Ermenegildo Zegna menswear empire, which recently hired Pilati to become the head of design for the company.

But for those who like their shearling to look a little funky, Trussardi and Jean Paul Gaultier are the brands to beat. At Trussardi, designer Umit Benan went for a cool cat 1970s-style shearling coat crafted with exposed seams. As for Gaultier, his touchy-feely tops imparted a modern caveman machismo. These two styles are sure to get a lot of action, both editorially and on the concrete catwalk.

And finally, for the truly daring, there is always Versace’s raspberry-colored coat or Roberto Cavalli’s lemon yellow alternative—pieces bound to cheer up any man’s winter wardrobe.

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