Early motorcycle jackets from the late 1920s were styled after aviator gear (Amelia Earhart looks forever cool in hers). By the time Marlon Brando wore his body-conscious black Schott jacket in the 1953 movie, “The Wild Ones,” he caused a sensation. But the garment had yet to hit a runway until a few years later, in 1958, when Yves Saint Laurent, then designing for Dior, had the revolutionary idea to show beatnik-inspired biker jackets on the catwalk. He took lots of heat for that – and took fashion to a place it had never been.
Some designers who did the trend the best this season include John Galliano at Hermes, who showed aviator-inspired, fur-collared crocodile bombers; Karl Lagerfeld for Fendi, whose thick black leather bomber comes with a ruffle of suede fringe to frame the face. Smaller designers, like former Y & Kei designer Hanii Yoon (Michelle Obama has worn her line, Hanii Y.), came up with a tough-looking green-gray motorcycle jacket with a puckered collar, zip-front, tight sleeves and a detachable lace collar. Christophe Decarin at Balmain added pointed, peaked shoulders to his series of biker jackets. Stefano Pilati at YSL opened his fall show with a series of leather jackets, pants and skirts and brought back Mr. Saint Laurent’s landmark motorcycle, done this time in soft black leather with a studded collar.
But the leather trend doesn’t stop with jackets. Pilati sent out one of the most photographed looks from the Paris runways, a buttery black leather bustier bodysuit that zips up the front. More leather looks on the major runways included lots of wide leather obi-style belts that cinch the waist and look great with another trend, a strong-shouldered white shirt and a black pencil skirt.Michael Kors did sexy black leather cocktail sheaths. Oscar de la Renta’s show featured hard-edge tall boots with lots of studs. Also back on the runway, but in longer, stronger forms, were thick leather gloves for just a touch of toughness.For now, at least, tough is as chic as it gets – we’ll take no lip about it.