Fashion: Coat of arms

Ever since Saint Laurent reinvented the military-style coat, designers have raided surplus stores for inspiration. This year, it's the turn of Chanel. Styling by Philippa Duck. Photographs by Desmond Muckian
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Indy Lifestyle Online
On parade: (far left) stone greatcoat, pounds 35.86, from Laurence Corner, 62-64 Hampstead Rd, London NW1 (0171-813 1010); (left) khaki cotton shirt, pounds 170, by Helmut Lang, available from Browns, South Molton St, London W1 (0171- 491 7833); leather belt pounds 4.88, and tie, pounds 2.98 both from Laurence Corner, as above; long khaki cashmere and wool fitted coat, pounds 4,000, by Chanel, 26 Old Bond St, London W1, (0171-493 5040); (this page) khaki cotton shirt, pounds 170, khaki trousers, pounds 205 both by Helmut Lang, available from Browns, South Molton St, as above; Chanel coat, as before

Uniforms made for the armed forces are designed with nothing but utility in mind. Fabrics are rough and ready, in grungy shades of khaki, brown, and mud. Form follows function, with little concession to fashion. Strange, then, that ever since Yves Saint Laurent remade pea coats and safari jackets in luxurious cashmere and sumptuous silk, designers have looked to the armed forces for inspiration. This winter, Chanel has led with khaki officer's jackets and greatcoats costing more than it would take to clothe a whole battalion. Laurence Corner, the London surplus store that has seen every designer worth his salt sorting through its gas masks and flack jackets, sells the real thing - at a hundredth of the price.