I recently wrote an article on FashionBeans detailing the resurgence of the Safari Jacket, and it got me thinking about other types of outerwear that are suitable for this transitional spring period. Further research on the key men’s outerwear trends for this year showed that the blouson jacket is making a huge comeback for the spring/summer 2012 season.
This was emphasised by the jacket’s appearance on all the major runways at recent fashion weeks, more and more SS12 lookbooks/campaigns featuring the style and of course, FashionBeans style icon Ryan Gosling rocking the now iconic white silk blouson in last year’s hit film, ‘Drive’.
The official definition of a blouson jacket is ‘a coat that is drawn tight at the waist causing it to blouse out and hang over the waistband. It should traditionally feature a prominent collar and a vented back.’ Historically, blouson jackets have been used in military and police uniforms, and the military influence is clearly visible in some of the blouson jackets being featured both on the high street and by designers for this coming season.
The blouson jacket also has a retro sports aesthetic, which fits in perfectly with the sports-luxe aesthetic that has been dominant at recent fashion shows and collections from designers worldwide.
On the runways, blouson jackets featured at all the major Fashion Weeks, in a variety of forms and fabrics. At Paris Fashion Week, Yves Saint Laurent displayed a crisp white blouson jacket with a funnel neck and multiple straps for a minimalist, unfussy look. YSL followed the all-white trend, which is expected to be popular this summer, pairing the jacket with white wide-leg shorts. Also in Paris, Dries Van Noten opted for blouson jackets with a sports-luxe influence, featuring them in slick navy and blue silk.
In Milan, Gucci opted for a more classic look, featuring leather blouson jackets in both quilted and smooth leather, channelling a feeling of James Dean in Rebel Without A Cause.
In New York, Patrick Ervell’s collection included a varsity-style blouson jacket in black leather with contrast synthetic white arms, providing a preppy American take on the trend. Ervell also featured a traditional beige Harrington-style blouson with popper fastenings, and my personal favourite – a simple blouson in distressed brown leather.
However, it was Versace in Milan who really bucked the trend, providing a wealth of contemporary and fashion forward blouson jackets. The collection included sports-influenced silk blouson’s in neon pink and blue; suede versions in blue and beige that were embellished with studs, intricate punch-hole detailing and buckle fastenings; and a bright red biker-style blouson with zip fastenings and buckle epaulette detailing.
Other designers to include the style within their collections were plentiful and included D&G, Louis Vuitton, Lanvin and Paul Smith. Kim Jones, menswear director at Louis Vuitton could not have put it better when he said:
“This is an essential wardrobe piece for SS12 because it’s the perfect lightweight summer jacket that everyone should have in their life.”
In the fashion press, blouson jackets have appeared in many recent publications. Esquire magazine included blouson jackets in their ‘Top 10 Spring Trends’, whilst GQ Essentials included bomber jackets as one of their ‘Wardrobe Heroes’ to be championed this season. In their April issue, Esquire also included the suede blouson as one of their ‘Top 50 Things No Man Should Be Without This Spring’. In the same issue, there were fashion shoots with celebrities such as Amir Khan and Alfie Allen, both of whom were decked out in a plethora of blouson jackets – from suede and seersucker to leather and nylon – in a range of muted and bright colours.
Similarly, Shortlist magazine have recently featured an article containing a range of retro blouson jackets in different colours, cuts and fabrics. Interestingly, the Shortlist article includes several patterned blouson jackets, featuring stripes and polka dots, which demonstrates that the blouson jacket is versatile enough to support the dominant pattern trend this season.
It is clear to see that blouson jackets have made a huge comeback this season and offer a fantastically suitable outerwear alternative for the transitional spring/summer months – lightweight enough to enable the torso to breathe, whilst offering some waterproof protection from those inevitable (and unpredictable) British April showers.
The versatility of the blouson jacket remains its biggest selling point, with the style easily adaptable to multiple trends and looks – including military, varsity and biker. With an increase in the range of fabrics, colours and patterns available this season, there is something for everybody.
Looking to the future, another positive feature is the longevity that the blouson jacket offers. Collection previews for autumn/winter 2012 have also featured a dominant blouson jacket trend, with premium designers such as Louis Vuitton, Michael Bastian and Viktor & Rolf including them in their end of year lines. It seems that the blouson jacket is here to stay, and isn’t a passing fad. Just another great reason to channel your inner Gosling, McQueen or Dean.
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