Patent or spazzolato leather, PVC or vinyl: the slick effect of these high-gloss materials has sometimes had louche associations, but this season designers have chosen to embrace these textures with a wink and a nod. Evening or daytime, the key texture is gloss, with a cornucopia of wet-look raincoats, shiny pencil skirts and gleaming vinyl trousers.
There was certainly a sense of the provocative in Clare Waight Keller’s “glossy but austere” club culture- and 1980s West Berlin-influenced collection for Givenchy. Shining leather gleamed under the catwalk lights, with soft, patent belts (from €590) wrapped around faux-fur coats, and a buckled belt (€320) in flat-grained shiny leather worn with a black, high-sheen quilted leather mini losenge bag (€875). However, the patently obvious standout piece was the glossy pencil skirt (€2,190, also available in green), which came across as sexy, sophisticated and self-possessed. Other designers giving this skirt style the high-shine treatment include Marni (£620), Georgia Alice (£487) and Rosetta Getty (£725), and each is a key piece in their new-season collections.
“Adding just one gloss texture to an outfit brings attitude with very minimal effort,” says Lisa Aiken, retail fashion director at Net-a-Porter. Aiken’s “just one” maxim is perhaps the key indicator here. Designers are not advocating a head-to-toe wet look. This is about adding to an outfit an element of synthetic lustre that contrasts with other luxurious fabrics.
Glossy outerwear is perhaps the easiest to wear. At Marni, vinyl coats and jackets were drenched in vibrant colours, including electric blue (jacket, £1,420; coat, £1,690) and traffic-light green (£1,610). “Marni loves to experiment in terms of shapes, colours, textures and materials,” explains creative director Francesco Risso. “As a designer, I am never afraid of mixing textures, as it is a way of going beyond predefined rules. It’s how you discover the best combinations.”
Miu Miu’s parade of lustrous polyester jackets and coats (£1,820) were an ’80s-flavoured take on last winter’s ubiquitous puffa coat, while at Balmain, the shiny metallic-silver, long, belted trench coat (€4,790) was a Barbarella-style homage to the trend.
Roland Mouret cites the cult 1978 voyeuristic thriller Eyes of Laura Mars as inspiration for his new-season, high-shine pieces – the black, belted Mocha jacket (£2,995) and Marvin coat (£3,695) are both crafted in patent-foil nappa leather. “At first glance the patent leather is harsh and rigid, but it is really quite delicate,” says Mouret. “The way it reflects the light… it has a sensual quality.”
Meanwhile, Net-a-Porter has taken a shine to Rains, the Danish outerwear brand that has made rainproof dressing chic with streamlined cuts and muted colourways. Now it’s added what Aiken calls the “fashion factor”, with new fabric developments “from unexpectedly fluid, waterproof fabrics through to transparent PVC” bringing rainwear bang on trend. The Glossy Curve jacket (£99, also available in green) emphasises the female silhouette and is inspired by the timeless trench coat design.
Aside from glossy leather and vinyl, designers have deployed softer fabrics to provide the high-sheen contrast. At Fendi, in a collection that fused heritage and sportswear, a glazed Prince of Wales check was a key fabric in the form of a long vinyl coat (£3,850) and mid-length pleated skirt (£1,550). Tom Ford found his inspiration in the 1960s, with a series of gleaming coated-jersey leggings (£390) worn underneath an Edie Sedgwick-style LBD or a black tuxedo jacket. The Chloé catwalk was an example of how a little of the glossy stuff can go a long way. Here, it was mostly found in the accessories, such as the calfskin Rylee boot – a chunky lace-up, available in a two-tone ’70s colour palette of cloudy yellow and cacao brown, or red brown with caramel (£920); and the medium Roy bag – a contrasting mix of smooth calfskin and glossy lambskin with a deep forest-green or blue (£1,655) sfumato effect.
For some, a patent pointed pump may be the only element of high shine their outfit requires. Paul Andrew (from £465), Miu Miu (from £525) and Gianvito Rossi (from £535) are brands to look out for. For a genuine statement, there’s Tibi’s glossy cowboy boot (£780) in spazzolato leather. For special occasions, meanwhile, check out fashion consultant and street-style star Ada Kokosar’s Midnight 00 collection. The shoes (£1,805) are covered in PVC for a high-shine effect that also makes them water- and dirt-proof. “I see these shoes as an act of freedom and practicality,” says Kokosar. Which just goes to show that this season’s glossy textures perhaps go deeper than their shiny surfaces suggest.