Leather: Vienna meets Montréal

When I was moving, I gave my totally cool leather jacket to my son Etienne's sweetie, who thought her mother, Natasha, might like it. It was black, tight-fitting, with silver industrial zippers up both sleeves, the front seams, back seams and front closure. (A lot of zips, but it worked.) 

Made by someone I never heard of, bought in a tiny French boutique, it fit me for about 15 minutes. Several weeks of patés, patisseries, and profiteroles–all the pleasurable "ps" of Paris–and, voilà, too tight by touchdown at home.

Natty seized the jacket like a fox terrier grabs a show award. She looks like Naomi Watts, slender, stylish and comfortable in both her skin and a cow's. She wrote me a sweet, slightly delirious thank-you note. When we moved to Montréal, I saw her in the jacket, and dadgummit, it was made for her.

Moving forward two years, I became smaller than when I bought the jacket and began to yearn not for my ex, specifically, but a leather jacket that kicks ass. Not a biker, like Lisa's new one, as I prefer aforesaid kicked area covered in our climate, but something with some 'tude.

Someone special (who really likes leather) gave an anniversary gift! J. Peterman's story-based copy referenced Emma Peel and '60's London; Le Duc was smitten. Thank god it wasn't a leather catsuit! 

This is my first-ever Peterman piece, the Vienna Leather Jacket. The leather is meltingly soft yet substantial, the details pleased me. I mean, who puts working cuff buttons on a leather jacket anymore? (Hermès, of course.) 

I can wear the collar spread or fastened high against our chill winds. The rich espresso colour provides a whisper of softening. Also, though double-breasted, the seamed, shaped body and fitted sleeve keep the line sleek. 

One thing, though. See that jauntily-knotted belt? Here's the back of the buckle in real life:

Gah! The glare of metal took the belt from Vienna to Podunk. Why didn't Peterman fully-cover that or use, say, a resin one? I wrote to ask (and mentioned the needed alteration). Kristin from Customer Service replied: "I can certainly see the concern with the buckle, and I'll be sure to pass that along to our production department." 

Channeling Frugal Scholar, I requested a $6.50 refund for the alteration; Kristin said she'd "have to take it up with her supervisor". I heard nothing after two inquiries; flick of my cat o' nine tails at J. Peterman for its indifferent service. 

The solution? I'm wearing it buckled, not tied, which meant a trip to our local cordonnier, where the cobbler trimmed seven inches.  

With the jacket: Thai silk scarf, Chada Import Gallery, Toronto; cords, Lands' End; boots, Hermès; sunglasses: Forever 21.

Le Duc says I indeed look like Emma Peel, even if I don't have the boots...yet.

"I got a lot of very odd fan mail while I was in that show, but my mum used to enjoy replying to it. Some of the men who wrote to me must have been a bit startled because she would offer really motherly advice. 

I would get a letter from a teenage boy, say, who was overexcited and my mother would write back saying: "My daughter is far too old for you and what you really need is a good run around the block".

-Diana Rigg about her days in "The Avengers"


Susan said…
You look great in this jacket! And, it is the first time I've ever seen a J. Peterman garment (other than in catalog drawings).
Anonymous said…
That is a snazzy jacket -- it really suits you!

And thanks for the nudge toward J. Peterman. I think I just found my "birthday dress"!
emma said…
You look fabulous!
Wow! You look absolutely stunning!
Svelte and hip very chic....am I gushing?
materfamilias said…
Fabulous! You look just fabulous! And very much une Montréalaise!
LauraH said…
You're really rocking that leather jacket. It's fun to see a picture of you, more please. Wonderful that you found pants that fit via mail order, that can be a frustrating search.
SusanG said…
Lovely jacket! It suits you. Like Susan, I think this is the first time I've seen an actual photo of a Peterman item.
Anonymous said…
That is one great jacket. It has all the must-haves in my book--soft, well-tailored, and not harsh black--and looks perfect on you. I've found a few J. Peterman items in thrift shops over the years and have always marveled at their almost antique quality and detailing.

The belt looks wonderful buckled, but for versatility, you could darken the aluminum back with a permanent marker. Experiment on a tin or something made of similar metal, and I think you'll see that a black (most commonly available brown markers are too red, though art stores have permanent markers in
an amazing range of colors) marker will give the look of dark metal, and will not wash off, though it might wear away and need occasional touch-ups. If that's too scary, the whole buckle could be replaced with one of tortoise shell or metal, but all in all, a light colored buckle back is a minor flaw in such a beautiful garment.

And once again, bravo le Duc!

william said…

Anonymous said…
Oh Duchesse, you have just pushed my buttons here! I have been a major Emma Peel fan since the age of 10. I trace her influence, fashion-wise, to my love of clothes with zippers; and her general awesomeness encouraged me, as a young girl, to be proud of being smart and independent.

So for all of you readers who are too young to know who Emma Peel is, find episodes of The Avengers and watch them all! They are especially remarkable considering the era, when all other women on TV were housewives.

Oh, and great jacket, btw! You look terrific.

---Jill Ann
LPC said…
That jacket looks perfect on you. So classy safari. Really perfect. I've been getting the Peterman catalogue and remembering that I liked some of their stuff, back when.

And thank you for the reference.
Madame Là-bas said…
You look so stylish and trim. That's a great look on you.
I took a look at their catalogue which does have some enticing clothing.
DocP said…
Beautiful jacket. The jacket looks great on you - I think scuba styles work better for me. I always love the Peterman descriptions of items, even though they don't have a true plus sized line. My two Boston terriers are named Steed and Emmapeel.
Viktoria Berg said…
I´ll join the choir: that is one handsome jacket and it fits you perfectly. I can see it styled with just about anything, at any level of elegance. It also looks very, very comfortable. I´m quite envious.;)
Duchesse said…
LauraH: I have them tailored, so that they fit me. Have always had problems with off the rack pants.

C.: I thought of replacing the buckle and might still, if I find one I like.

Jill Ann: Sharing the love for Emma!

LPC: Your comment made me think "Safari???" Guess it's the belt? Safari to me implies epaulets, khaki and horn buttons. I think this is more "Cabaret" than "Kenya"- or I hope so.
Beth said…
Oh yeah! I loved the Peterman catalog and thought it had gone out of business - is it actually back? And Diana Rigg's sense of style was the great influence of my early years though I never quite had the body for a leather catsuit!
Duchesse said…
Beth: Yes, the catalog is online.

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