When waking up at dawn to bake a rhubarb tart before jumping on horseback for a brisk ride through the countryside trails, are you aware that you’re actually still asleep? These dreamy meanderings may be a departure from your morning routine—however, they draw from the English countryside life of the stylish women, vast landscapes and layered heritage that inspired Zac Posen, our Creative Director of Womenswear, to create a renewed edition of the traditional hacking jacket for our Fall 2019 collection.
Posen’s fascination with English style began in college while studying fashion in London. Making regular visits to thrift stores, he’d acquire fun antique pieces to mix with his old military jackets and sometimes a beautiful woven tweed blanket or two. It was when he set off for a visit to West Sussex, a bucolic countryside region of rolling hills, lush color and stone, for his first English Thanksgiving, that he became enamored by the rustic home of his fashionable friends––the daughters of a storied model and photographer––immediately admiring the way they dressed and lived. Their photographer father had, by then, evolved into a true country gent and bird-watcher whose elegantly rugged clothing was styled with personal character: textured layers of vintage tweed jackets and khaki pants all mixed with great flair. It was a charming chapter; “The magic of English tradition, farming and pub culture felt like it was out of a movie,” Posen recalls.
This way of living, amongst the flora and fauna of the countryside, continues to guide Posen’s appreciation for the natural and well made. A native New Yorker, he heads out of the city most weekends to his family’s stone farmhouse in Pennsylvania for quiet time working in the garden, harvesting vegetables to cook gourmet meals, gathering firewood and taking long walks. “It reminds of my time in West Sussex,” he says. “To me, gardening is part of the art of cooking in the same way that sourcing beautiful fabric is part of the art of design.” It also led to a Fall 2019 women’s collection perfectly tailored to these pursuits, combining the sporting elegance and soft colors of the English and American countryside with the sophisticated perspective of modern women in mind.
Central to the collection is the hacking jacket, a redesigned classic evolved from the stately 18th century tweed riding coats worn in the country for a leisurely ‘hack,’ or informal horse ride taken for pleasure and exercise, originally created to ride more comfortably while maintaining refinement. One of the most historically influential styles of English clothing, it features an elongated cut, notched lapels, a tailored waist, and a single vent intended to gracefully drape over a saddleback. Even the slanted pockets are thoughtfully constructed for easier access on horseback. Posen envisioned a more feminine edition that could be worn in the city or country with ease––he softened the shoulders, raised the arm opening and imparted his signature figure-defining seams. “It’s right for today but just as easily could have existed in the past,” Posen says. “It’s a timeless piece that you can wear in the city, that you can dress up or down.” Styled for a weekend getaway or a crisp fall afternoon, the hacking jacket brings the misty mornings and rolling hills that have enthralled the stylish-on-horseback to your finely tailored every day.