By Marylou Luther

Illustration by Fernando Flores

Dear Marylou:  In a recent column you quoted a fashion historian/author/designer as saying the bomber jacket “always has knit trim at cuffs and waistband and sometimes at the neckline”. 

Not the ones I see.  Your take?__J.N., Newark, NJ.

Dear J.N.:  Just as T-shirts, jeans, shirts and so on have many manifestations, so does the bomber.  Jeffrey Banks gave the literal definition, but he can’t be responsible for what other designers, retailers, fashion writers and bloggers call bombers.   While the bomber originated for WWII servicemen, it has never really disappeared.  The quilted leather version in our illustration was called a bomber by Karl Lagerfeld when he showed it in his l991 collection for Chanel.

Ever the fashion forecaster, the late Paris designer-of-designers showed his bombers with taffeta and lace ballgowns as his homage to the streets, accessorizing them with baseball caps.  Sound familiar?

Dear Marylou:  Designer Virgil Abloh, whose Off-White brand helped to define streetwear as it is known today, told Dazed magazine that streetwear is going to die in the coming decade. 

Do you believe him?__E.T., Los Angeles, CA.

Dear E.T.:  As with most major trends that come and go and then come back again, I believe streetwear will survive, but maybe not as the force it is today.

Streetwear has already been upgraded by designers who now make the looks of the street into salon-worthy fabrics and with plenty of nuances.

To me, streetwear in the U.S. is really based on American sportswear—hoodies, T-shirts, sweats, jeans, motorycycle jackets, etc.   Just as streetwear in London is based on the Mods and Rockers of ‘60s fame.  And streetwear in Paris is based on the crowd-induced clothes of other decades, other times.  As Coco Chanel said:  “Fashion doesn’t exist until it goes down into the street”.

Dear Marylou:  Vicky Tiel, an American designer who became famous working in Paris, wrote in Lookonline that Coco Chanel invented sportswear.  Is that true?__U.W., Denver, CO.

Dear U.W.:  I’m not sure.  To me, jeans (yes, the fabric, denim, came from Nimes, France) were the invention of America’s Levi Strauss.  The hooded jacket came from the basketball court and other sports arenas.  The sweatshirt, running shorts, baseball caps, football jerseys, cowboy pants, shirts and boots, all started as sports gear.

Yes, the Chanel jacket supposedly emanated from the four-pocketed Loden cloth jackets worn by Tyrolean mountaineers.  The late, greatGeoffrey Beene told me that the legendary photographer Horst P. Horst told him that he gave Coco the jacket as a gift.  Lagerfeld long attributed  the jacket to the braid-trimmed Tyrolean jackets ones worn by the staff at the Baron Pantz hotel in Salzburg, Austria, and admired by Coco.

I don’t think of the mountaineer’s jacket as sportswear, but maybe Tiel has a point.

Dear Marylou:  What do you see as the trend that is most likely to continue into the new decade?—E.J.K., New York, NY.

Dear E.J.K.:  I like the way Christian Lacroix put it in an interview with WWD:  “Gender blurring is a powerful path forward, not just a gimmicky fast-fashion trend but a reality.”  I agree.


 Marylou welcomes questions for use in this column but regrets she cannot answer mail personally. Please send your questions in.

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