Edna Mode was wrong.
The costume designer to some of the most famous animated superheroes in ‘The Incredibles’ has a strict “no capes” policy, deriding them for their lethality. But little does she know it makes for a great fashion accessory for us mere mortals. Danger has never been a deterrent – Alexander McQueen’s infamous ‘Armadillo Boot’ is a testament to how far we’ll push our bodies in the name of fashion.
Multiple designers have been experimenting with adding the cape to some of their runway looks, with Hedi Slimane at Celine leading the way. Virginie Viard and Pierpaolo Piccioli have also created designs for the ladies, while Thom Browne and Kris van Assche did the same for men. Yes, the cape is gender-neutral, but there are more reasons as to why it’s a fashion trend for you to try.
The high fashion variant of capes isn’t the type you’d see on the likes of Superman or Thor that flit about in the wind. They are instead statement pieces that add volume and versatility to your outfit, creating a new silhouette.
Know the difference between a cape and a coat
To pull off the look, the first step is to distinguish between a cape and a coat. The two might look similar, but capes aren’t as structured and don’t necessarily always serve to protect you from the elements. They are closer in shape to ponchos and even kaftans.
Your cape should also stand out from the rest of your ensemble like the Celine look below from their Spring/Summer 2020 collection. Contrasting and complementary colours work better so you don’t resemble a giant, monochromatic blob. Olivia Palermo executes this formula well in a Valentino outfit despite her cape and her dress belonging to a similar colour family. The lighter pink hue complements the darker, purple shade of her dress in a way that still strikes a balance.
Another Valentino cape from their Spring 2020 collection (see below) has a simpler design, allowing for more breathability. We’re particularly digging the string collar that adds an element of casual-chic.
A gender-neutral accessory
The options for men are also aplenty. Thom Browne’s dramatic white cape would be reserved for red carpet events in the colder seasons, while the hybrid trench coat/cape from Kris van Assche’s Berluti make for the perfect everyday outfit thanks to its cutoff sleeves. Fendi’s perforated iteration would also be the perfect accessory for a European holiday.
So, sorry but not sorry, Edna. We’re not superheroes, and we won’t be sling-shotting ourselves into a tornado or getting clumsily stuck on a missile anytime soon. We deserve the capes, and they deserve to be on our backs.