Equestrian Influence on Fashion Throughout History
Equestrian culture has had a significant impact on fashion for centuries, particularly in the luxury sector.
The 16th and 17th centuries saw the rise of horse riding as a popular pastime among the wealthy and elite, which led to the development of specialized clothing and accessories designed for horse riding. Riding boots, originally designed for support and protection, became a popular fashion item.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, the equestrian influence on fashion continued to evolve with the development of tailored riding jackets and other riding gear. These items were not only practical but also stylish, made from high-quality materials such as wool and leather. Jackets featured distinctive design elements such as high collars, brass buttons, and tapered waists, often worn with jodhpurs or riding breeches. Originally worn by horse riders for warmth and protection, the jacket has since become a symbol of sophistication and class.
Luxury handbags such as the Hermès Birkin bag and the Gucci Jackie bag were both inspired by equestrian gear. The Hermès Birkin bag features a distinctive shape reminiscent of a horse saddle, often made from high-quality leather with gold or silver hardware. The Gucci Jackie bag, popularized by former First Lady Jackie Kennedy in the 1950s, features a horseshoe-shaped clasp that became an instant icon. Riding boots, tailored jackets, and other equestrian-inspired pieces remain popular among fashion-conscious consumers.
Equestrian-inspired jewelry pieces such as bracelets, necklaces, and earrings often feature horse-inspired designs, crafted from high-quality materials such as gold and silver, and adorned with precious gemstones. Brands such as Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels have created equestrian-inspired jewelry collections featuring horse motifs and other elements inspired by the equestrian world.
The equestrian influence on fashion is not limited to just clothing and accessories. It has also inspired luxury brands to create fragrances that capture the essence of the equestrian world. Gucci's Guilty Absolute Pour Femme, for example, features notes of leather and vetiver, evoking the rugged yet refined nature of horse riding.
Overall, the equestrian world has had a lasting impact on luxury fashion, with its timeless appeal and associations with sophistication and elegance. Riding boots turned into heeled booties, riding coats turned into blazers, leather is now used to make pants and jackets, horseshoes have become clasps, and shackles turned into necklaces. All of these equestrian-inspired pieces have become iconic staples in the fashion world, and luxury brands continue to incorporate these elements into their collections in unique and creative ways. The influence of the equestrian world on fashion is a testament to the enduring appeal of this aristocratic culture and its timeless sense of style.
Here are some of the well-known luxury fashion designers who have incorporated equestrian influences into their designs:
Hermès: The French luxury brand is perhaps best known for its iconic Birkin and Kelly bags, which were inspired by equestrian saddlebags. Hermès also produces a range of equestrian-inspired clothing and accessories, including riding boots, tailored jackets, and scarves.
Gucci: The Italian fashion house has a long-standing connection with equestrian culture, dating back to the early 20th century when founder Guccio Gucci worked as a bellboy at London's Savoy Hotel, where he was inspired by the stylish riding gear worn by guests. Today, Gucci produces a range of equestrian-inspired clothing and accessories, including the iconic Jackie bag.
Ralph Lauren: The American fashion designer has a long-standing love of equestrian culture, and has incorporated its influences into many of his designs. Ralph Lauren produces a range of equestrian-inspired clothing and accessories, including tailored riding jackets, jodhpurs, and riding boots.
Burberry: The British luxury brand has a long-standing connection with equestrian culture, with its iconic trench coat originally designed for use by British soldiers during World War I. Today, Burberry produces a range of equestrian-inspired clothing and accessories, including riding boots and tailored jackets.
Chanel: The French fashion house has incorporated equestrian influences into many of its designs, including the iconic quilted handbag, which was inspired by horse blankets. Chanel also produces a range of equestrian-inspired clothing and accessories, including riding boots and tailored jackets.
Alexander McQueen was known for his bold and avant-garde designs, which often featured equestrian motifs such as horse prints and harnesses. His Fall 2008 collection, titled "The Girl Who Lived in the Tree," featured an equestrian-inspired jacket with a high collar and tapered waist.
Christian Dior's love for horses and horse riding was well-known, and this influence can be seen in some of his designs. His 1949 Fall/Winter collection featured a fitted jacket with a nipped-in waist and flared peplum, inspired by traditional riding jackets.
Coach has also incorporated equestrian influences into their designs, particularly in their accessories. Their Bridle Bag, for example, is inspired by the hardware on horse bridles, and features a distinctive shape and design. But also in their logo – the iconic horse-and-cart emblem of the Coach logo portrays the products’ high quality and beauty.
Isabel Marant is known for her bohemian and effortless style, which often incorporates equestrian-inspired elements such as suede boots and tailored jackets. Her Fall 2020 collection featured a number of equestrian-inspired pieces, including jodhpur-style pants and riding boots.
Calvin Klein has also incorporated equestrian influences into their designs, particularly in their Fall/Winter 2018 collection. The collection featured tailored jackets and pants with equestrian-style details such as high collars and tapered waists, as well as riding boots and other accessories.
These are just a few examples of the many luxury fashion designers who have been influenced by equestrian culture over the years.
The legendary footwear designer Manolo Blahník is recently reported to have walked through the Prado museum with its director Manuela Mena Marqués, halting in font of a Velásquez painting saying: “The horse is more chic than the woman riding it”. However, we like to say,
“Nothing is more chic than the woman wearing Vincent Peach Fine Jewelry.”
Here are some of our favorite, Equestrian-Inspired pieces:
Churchill Downs Earrings in Sterling Silver with Freshwater Pearl
Montana Wrap & Choker in Gold & Diamond with Brown Bovine Leather and Tahitian Pearl Clasp
Trojan Coin Earrings in Sterling Silver featuring the Iconic Vincent Peach Horse Logo
Shackle Infinity Lock Bracelet in Sterling Silver with Signature Vincent Peach Lobster Clasp