1 of 4
2 of 4
3 of 4
4 of 4
Fabulous, flirtatious, alluring and cool: leather is a world of its own. Victoria Bannerman has a hide old time
I am partial to a bit of leather, me. That addictive cocktail of sleek, sexy, bossy dominatrix librarian, all rolled into one piece of bovine form-fitting hide, is alluring, intoxicating and timeless. From art-of-seduction dresses to blue suede shoes, there is something for everyone in the wonderful world of leather. It matures beautifully too. If only one were similarly immune to the ravages of time!
As a by-product of the meat industry, leather is now mass-produced, the tanning process giving us colours and finishes from patent to suede – a licence to indulge with abandon. Yet traditional leather making is an ancient, though dying, art. At Fes, in Morocco, it has gone on uninterrupted since the 11th Century. Here water, limestone and – get this – pigeon droppings are used to create leather for the city’s famous slippers.
Pour homme, leather can add instant Jimmy Dean and Lenny Kravitz cool. Take note, however, of how not to do it. Before he became the pious Reverend Al Green, Al donned tight leather hot pants to throw some shapes singing Tired of Being Alone on US TV show Soul Train. Hideously kinky, but please, no mutton dressed as lamb...or is it beef?!
Your leather ensemble should be good-looking, rich in texture and flirtatious; demanding decorous, admiring glances, yet sufficiently provocative to have a potentate welcoming you into his inner cabal. Don’t be parsimonious, or you’ll give the impression that you are about to strut down Sunset Strip in search of, ahem, business.
Prada and Jil Sander both have gorgeous leather pieces, but if you can’t afford their prices, there are less expensive options. Whistles and Hobbs have a good selection of leather tops, dresses, skirts and jackets, while All Saints has a fantastic array of cool leather apparel. Its bomber jackets are exceptionally stylish and come in some fabulous colours – cue the Assembly jacket – while its Lucille skirt and Ramona dress are respectably sexy and worth every penny. The store in Covent Garden is dedicated to leather, with prototypes out on display, and a snakeskin biker outfit has me bewitched. Were it ever to go into production, I would feel impelled to tap King Croesus for a shekel or two.
For me, however, the king of leather is Jitrois. His designs are monumental, innovative pieces of art; an utter delight to behold (pictured above). I will be attending a wedding this month and have devised a shrewd purchase plan to own the label’s thunder-stealing Guadalupe dress. An alchemy of deliciously sheer fitting – just the right amount of skin-exposing hide with strategically placed lambskin embroidery – this creation is uber genius. The cascade of tassels/fringing would make any mere mortal a winsome, bovine belle of the ball. Visit the store on London’s fabulous Sloane Street and you’ll be in wonderland.
At the other end of the spectrum, Zadig & Voltaire’s deliciously indecorous and versatile leather overalls are the ones to covet if you want to be sexy crazy cool. Team with a white tee shirt, attitude, Aurelie Bidermann jewellery and any boot from the libidinous and titillating Saint Laurent A/W 13 shoe collection. Toga Pulla’s red suede these-boots-are-made-for-walking buckle boot, from Matches, will complement any leather skirt, shorts, dress or trousers. And, if you want to add a touch of Victoriana femininity to your hide, your trusted plastic fantastic and a click at Net-a-Porter will combine to bring you the arrestingly irresistible net and lace peep toe boots from Dolce & Gabbana – the ultimate fix for a voracious shoeaholic.
If you are fortunate enough to be of calflike proportions, indulge in an exorbitant pair of designer super skin-tight stretch-leather trousers. All the usual suspects will have their versions. Whistles leathers are for all seasons. I adore the stretch jean, short sleeve top, while the sensational laid-back carrot leg trousers are simply top of the class. Oh, and size 16 exists. Yippee!
For the perfect top for your leathers, go to freepeople.com. It’s a funky, modern day Woodstock site with fantastic choices of tops and leather goods, like the nonchalantly cool voyageur leather dungarees. The we-love-the-free-Saturday-night top is simply fabulous, daarhling.
An equally glorious site is stories.com (with a shop at Oxford Circus). Here you’ll find peculiarly pretty shoes, while the leather shorts (mature chicks wear with tights) should be applauded for age versatility! If you dare, cocoon your pins in the Motabor stretch-leather over-the-knee boot from Roland Mouret. Titillatingly louche! Powerfully attired in all five and a half inches, there is nothing – absolutely nothing – you couldn’t get anyone to do for you. Your vegan friends will be green with envy.
Finally, the Marks and Spencer S/S14 collection is sublimely urbane, complete with impeccably recherché leather pieces. Prepare to be the hooker in the scrum if you want to get hold of one of these skins. Available this month!
Whatever you choose – shorts, skirts, tops, dresses, trousers or shoes/boots – just make sure that you are loving the skin you’re in.