In this weekly feature, InStyle’s Fashion News Director Eric Wilson shares his favorite fashion moment of the week, and explains how it could shape styles to come. Look for it on What’s Right Now every Friday.
The Moment: This has been a big winter for bold statement-making coats, though few have been more direct with their message than the vivid purple zip-front coat worn by Chirlane McCray to her husband Bill de Blasio's inauguration as New York City’s 109th mayor Wednesday. Both McCray and her daughter, Chiara de Blasio, wore coats designed and made in New York by Nanette Lepore, a designer who has been at the heart of a campaign over the last few years to preserve manufacturing in the city’s garment district.
“It makes a statement on their first day that they are behind the garment district in New York City, and that is really valuable,” Lepore told me. “I think de Blasio gets that small, entrepreneurial companies are what make New York special and unique. He is going to celebrate the diversity and artisanal value we have in this city.”
Why It’s a Wow: Besides offering an obvious nod to New York’s creative industry, the coats were visual standouts in a scene overcrowded with black and charcoal toppers. McCray wore a $578 boiled wool coat in a color Lepore described as “dark boysenberry,” ornamented with a glittering Miriam Haskell brooch. Her daughter wore a leather-trimmed, leopard-print coat (currently on sale for $374) that Lepore, who sent the family several options, described as a “happy choice.”
“Chiara is a college student and she can take a few more chances with how she dresses,” Lepore said. “Her mom has to be taken a little more seriously, but she still can look elegant and chic.”
Still, the de Blasios -- as budding fashion fixations and nose-piercing advocates (Chirlane had a nose ring when she met her husband in 1991; Chiara currently dons one) -- are not overly slick. As her father was sworn into office the night before, Chiara was photographed wearing the same coat with a pointy black hat, leading to some witchy online commentary. Lepore noted it was actually a vintage party hat, worn in good fun for New Year’s Eve.
Regardless, Lepore is hopeful the exposure will build momentum for the garment district, which has long been threatened by higher rents and the loss of jobs to overseas manufacturing.
“New York has more young designers than London, Paris, and Milan put together,” she said. “If they take away the factories, they will take away a lot of the opportunities for startups. It’s hard to start up and go right to China.”
Learn More: Hear from designers on the campaign to save New York City’s garment district, and check out the coats Chirlane and Chiara wore, available for purchase on Lepore's site.