Reiss Signatures: The Coat


Genevieve Bates is a writer with a Reiss coat story to tell. Her coat survived the past two decades among treasured and regretted fashion ventures, taking on different roles without changing its essence.
Her story is illustrated by the coats captured in our Autumn Winter '21 Signatures campaign.

“The outdoors is what you must pass through in order to get from your apartment into a taxi,”

Looking back, it’s clear that my first was my best. My first proper grown-up coat, that is. In cities such as London and New York it’s a given that your coat is your calling card. Cosmopolitan sourpuss writer Fran Lebowitz said, but I think it’s wonderful how you see everyone you’ve ever met in those brief journeys. On the street or Tube, striding into work, nipping out for lunch, in restaurants, bars, hotels, theatre foyers and galleries, always with your coat on. Whether shrugged over your shoulders or snugly wrapped tight, it telegraphs your attitude to the city around you.

I grew up in British Columbia in the 1990s, when bright, shiny ski jackets were the outerwear of choice and a swishy long-line wool coat would have been as out of place as a lorgnette or tiara. So who knows what made me scoop up a smart camel wrap at my first Boxing Day sale in London? A somewhat lonely journalism student, I’d only been in London a few weeks and had barely had time to discover the city beyond the West End, let alone to develop any style nous, but I wandered into Reiss in Knightsbridge where I was drawn to this weighty, grown-up coat that I slipped off its hanger and tried on.

“Oh honey, you have to get that. You look so rich in it,” said an older American woman like a fashion fairy godmother.

As time has worn on, evidence suggests that may be I do have an invisible spirit guide nudging me towards good investment buys. Among my collection, which includes a few lucky finds from Chanel, Hermès and Saint Laurent, my Reiss coat still stands proud.

It’s a caramel-coloured classic: with wide lapels, a long tie belt that creates the illusion of a slim waist and a lean cut that lengthens rather than swamps my regrettably average height. The colour of a Werther’s Original, it has a preppy, woolly softness that, combined with the flicky, loose silhouette, feels very Gwyneth Paltrow in The Talented Mr Ripley (had the film been set in winter instead of summer, of course). It’s polished without feeling prissy. And, while the sweeping shape works for smart evenings in a way that something more tailored wouldn’t, it also feels like a chic hug when slipped on over jeans or yoga clothes on a weekend morning. I think those are the times that I enjoy its cut, weight and softness the most: when it’s worn with something so low-key that the coat takes centre-stage, its rightful place.