The Trench Coat exhibition: From Field to Fashion

Spiros Halaris' trench coat illustration

ABOVE: Spiros Halaris’ trench coat illustration

Talk about timely exhibitions – there isn’t a more perfect moment than now to look back into the history and design of the beloved trench coat, just as we begin to don our own.

A new exhibition, The Trench Coat: From Field to Fashion, showcases how this wardrobe staple has evolved over the years from its original utilitarian roots.

With an introduction by Hilary Alexander OBE, the show features a selection of trench coats by designers including Burberry, Jean Paul Gaultier, Comme des Garçons and Viktor & Rolf. There is an original Cavalry trench coat from the First World War on display, a couple of contemporary designs from students from the local Winchester School of Art and a piece from fashion illustrator Spiros Halaris depicting the 10 features that make a classic trench coat (above).

For your reference, here’s a handy guide on the 10 elements of a classic trench coat:

  1. Raglan sleeve
  2. Epaulettes
  3. Storm flap
  4. Throat latch (strap and buckle system)
  5. Belt with D rings
  6. Storm pockets
  7. Back storm cape
  8. Sleeve straps
  9. Deep vented back
  10. Double breasted – traditionally with 10 buttons

The exhibition’s base in Hampshire is no coincidence. The county’s connection to the trench coat goes back to 1879 when Thomas Burberry invented a special fabric – gabardine – a tightly woven, breathable but rain-resistant cotton that was fashioned into a trench coat to protect the wearer against the elements. The idea was inspired by the woven smocks worn by local shepherds.

The Trench Coat exhibition runs until December 2014 at The Gallery, Winchester Discovery Centre, Jewry Street, Winchester, SO23 8SB. Free entry.