Hollywood loves a trenchcoat. No other piece of outerwear has been so heavily utilized on-screen. From providing film noir’s detectives with their uniform of choice to giving Holly Golightly her raincoat for that climatic downpour kiss, the trench is the multipurpose piece wardrobe departments have reached for since the golden age of cinema. As the originator of the trench, Burberry has been a silent influence in countless films, providing straight-from-the-runway pieces and serving to inspire looks worn during now-iconic scenes. Bogart delivering the classic “here’s looking at you, kid” line wouldn’t be quite the same had he been sporting a parka, now, would it?
With its clean lines, subtle tailoring, and goes-with-everything taupe color, the Burberry trench—and its many imitators—is one of those rare items that pairs well with nearly any situation, period, or genre a filmmaker can dream up. Can you think of another coat that both Carrie Bradshaw and James Bond would reach for? A trench can be a signifier of lost wealth, as in the case of Cate Blanchett’s carefully maintained coat in Blue Jasmine. It can be a costume for an off-Broadway vixen like Marilyn Monroe in Let’s Make Love or a hit man’s armor against a cruel world as in Jean-Pierre Melville’s Le Samouraï. The opposite of a statement piece, the trench melds itself to the wearer, becoming whatever it needs to be at that moment. It’s this versatility that makes it a natural fit for any supporting role on film or TV. Long after the latest trend item falls out of favor, we’ll all no doubt be seeking out that perfect belted trench. And with Burberry offering inspired new variations on the classic piece each season, we have no doubt that Christopher Bailey will provide the world—Hollywood included—with another coveted trenchcoat offering on his runway tomorrow.
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