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STYLE FILE
Leather, Style
& A Cut Above
Leather is the material that bridges
fashion and the equestrian world.
High fashion collections ranging from Gucci to Chanel, Hermes to Ralph Lauren often contain an authentic equestrian influence based around this tawny textile.
Considered one of the world’s most prestigious fashion brands, when Hermes launched its first collection in 1837, inspiration came from the buttery brown saddles and harnesses its founder had long been creating. Menehould de Bazelaire, Hermes’s longtime Director of Culture Heritage has been widely quoted describing that “The know-how founder Thierry Hermes and his descendants accrued in making harnesses and saddles for the French carriage trade is invaluable and survives to this day. The horse is a very demanding customer and Hermes owes everything its has to these wonderful animals.”

Fast forward to Paris in 2009, which marked the first year Gucci sponsored the European Show Jumping Masters competition, while simultaneously unveiling a limited-edition collection featuring riding boots and equine-inspired scarves. “We are privileged in a way because there aren’t so many fashion houses with this connection to the equestrian world," Gucci’s creative director, Frida Gianni was quoted at the time, describing during the collection. In fact, Gianni herself is an accomplished Italian show jumper, first stepping into the stirrups at the age of six. But Equestrian heritage at Gucci stretches far beyond Gianni’s tenure as creative director, the famous Gucci "horse-bit loafers" were added to the collection in 1953, and the equestrian-inspired Jackie Bag undeniably reminiscent of a girth strap, was first revealed in 1961.
Equally, when launching the new Autumn/Winter 2018 collection of MIASUKI, leather was the ideal element to bring into the designs. Sumptuous and traditional, this season customers will find an exquisite leather peplum that transforms into a bomber jacket, as well as the delicate Gracie leather top, hand-finished with gauzy lace detailing around the neck. And the hero item of the new line, a pair of sophisticated leather shorts designed to mimic a classic pair of full-seat riding breeches.

British show jumper Tess Carmichael, who is currently competing on the prestigious Longines Global Champions tour, spoke with us about how leather is integral both to her personal style as well as her day-to-day life as a competitive show jumper. “I love leather; especially good-quality leather that is a bit older and worn until it’s soft! With horses you need something that’s easy to keep clean and that is going to mature well with age and wear! Leather is the perfect material for this! It’s also soft, flexible and versatile, so it’s lovely to use on the horses as well.”
I love leather; especially good-quality leather that
is a bit older and worn until it’s soft!
Tess Carmichael
And for Tess, it’s all about that intersection of fashion and functionality. "I also absolutely love a leather handbag! A few years ago I was involved with some of the promotional work Mulberry did when they launched a collection of bags called the Tessie, which included a leather saddle bag. My name combined with the equestrian theme makes that bag very special to me.”

Not only is her saddle bag important but of course Tess’s saddle itself is integral to both her equestrian style and also to her competitive career. “I get very attached to my saddles! We go through a lot together, good rounds and not so good rounds. I spend hours and hours riding in them and the leather gets so nice and soft, so when I change them I do feel a little sad. They’re a piece of my personal riding history!”