Why We’re Obsessed With Mr Kanye West’s Big Coat
Mr Kanye West, London, 10 October 2020. Photograph by Mr Neil Mockford/Getty Images
“North West is in North West!” trilled Twitter this weekend after Mr Kanye West and his daughter were spotted in London’s Queens Park. Despite the pandemic, Mr West had arrived in the UK to attend the Bottega Veneta runway show, and was briefly snapped outside a sushi restaurant (run by the Japanese fashion-designer-turned-restauranteur Ms Michiko Koshino, and delightfully called Michiko Sushino).
It wasn’t just because Mr West was close to MR PORTER’s London HQ that his visit caught our attention, though, or that he was possibly flouting quarantine. It was because he was wearing surely the largest coat any of us has seen this year. Cut from thick, navy wool, with beefy shoulders and have-your-eye-out lapels, it looked big enough to sleep in, and was, without a doubt, butt-clenchingly expensive – we know a good coat when we see one.
It’s worth noting here that Mr West is not a tall man. At 172cm (5ft 7in), he is, as the comedian Mr Jaboukie Young-White might say, a short king. An oversized coat like this is a risky play for Mr West. As this 170cm-tall writer knows, a pair of heels is often a safer bet than a huge jacket. That being said, with the right braggadocio (that’s pseudo-Italian for cojones, which is Spanish for chutzpah, all of which are decidedly unrelated to height), you can pull off pretty much anything. And if there’s something that Mr West has in spades, it’s braggadocio.
That’s not to say a large coat is an arrogant thing for a man to wear. If anything, the oversized overcoat is perhaps best described as the sartorial opposite of a muscle shirt (an increasingly popular but ultimately tasteless item of clothing that is designed to highlight hard work at the gym), because it revels in covering you up rather than showing you off.
Still, it’s undeniable that a huge coat, when worn well, carries that inscrutable thing we’re forever trying to achieve with our clothes: gravitas. See Mr Richard E Grant’s sweeping tweed jacket in Withnail And I, or the storied, slouchy Giorgio Armani camel coat that Mr Richard Gere wears in American Gigolo – both brilliant examples of big coats worn with panache. See also Mses Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen (now founders of the searingly high-end brand The Row), who have made “the giant coat” somewhat of a signature; in seemingly every recent photograph of either of the twins, their petite frames are clad in imposing architectural cashmere shells from which they occasionally emerge to puff on cigarettes. The effect of the outerwear is interesting, because it is both reductive and imposing, serving to dwarf the women as well as lend them an air of fashionable authority, in much the same way that Mr West’s coat does here.
From left to right: Fendi runway, Milan, 23 September 2020; photograph by Mr Daniele Oberrauch/IMAXtree. Balenciaga runway, Paris, 4 October 2020; photograph courtesy of Press Office. AMI Alexandre Mattiussi runway, Paris, 3 October 2020; photograph by Mr Daniele Oberrauch/IMAXtree
If all this big-coat talk sounds appealing, you’re in luck: stylish, giant pieces are practically the norm when it comes to outerwear this season. At the time of writing, a quick search for “oversized coat” on MR PORTER brings up a selection of large-and-in-charge coats from brands including Gucci, Rick Owens, FEAROFGODZEGNA, Prada, and our in-house brand Mr P. The most extreme example, though, comes courtesy of Balenciaga. The designer Mr Demna Gvasalia delights in consistently boxy silhouettes, each with shoulders so aggressively wide as to stop anyone sitting next to you; it’s enforced social distancing at its most stylish.
If, like Mr West, you’ve got the braggadocio (or indeed the cojones or chutzpah) to pull one off yourself, well, we’re not going to stand in your way.