Hide and chic

Is it worth it? : Millionaire Hell's Angels take note, pounds 3,800 buys the last word in biker gear

If you have got more money than sense and your taste is in your boots, you'll love this week's little item.

The Chrome Hearts ladies' biker jacket revs up at pounds 3,800 and a bargain it ain't. This is Cher's wet dream, a jacket with more zips and buckles on it than a dominatrixes' party frock. We've got little daggers as zip pulls, an ornate three-band silver buckle (which makes an impressive clunky noise when you walk) and a large star stud on the back, edged in suede.

Based in Hollywood, Chrome Hearts sells to the likes of Pammy and Tommy, Cher and Aerosmith's Steve Tyler (it's cited in this month's Harper's Bazaar as what Young Hollywood is wearing. Poor lambs).

We are talking serious Gothic rock chic here, but, I'm sorry, pounds 3,800? "All the details are exclusive to Chrome Hearts," says Paul Bachant, merchandise director of the New York store. "They're all sterling silver and are hand- made. We also use the best leathers you can get, a napa leather, which is thick and very soft. The lining is made from Egyptian cotton, embossed with our logo, but the zippers are just regular."

"Each jacket is made out of one skin," explains sales director JeJe Meisanger, "and we purposely use leather that you can wear in the rain and the snow." Oh, so it's perfect for Hollywood weather then.

At pounds 500, the Harley-Davidson's "Roadmaster" is a classic biker jacket, with the H-D emblem on the metal zip-pulls and a nylon lining. It's got as many zips and is made of a harder, less supple leather but softens up with use. "These jackets aren't made out of one skin. Ones that are will cost a lot more. Because you've got to get the grain going the same way on each section, you're wasting a lot of fabric," says Roger Wakefield, director at Emporio Textiles, Harley-Davidson's UK distributor.

So how do you spot a quality leather jacket? "Does it feel good, does it smell good. You want to stroke a really good leather jacket," says Shelagh Davy, editor of Leather magazine. "Is the stitching, cut and lining, good? With the Chrome Hearts jacket you're paying for the name. There's no way that the intrinsic value could be pounds 3,800, but it does sound like a very special jacket. Many people cannot afford it, but there's not that many people who would want it." Too right, matey!

At least the "Roadmaster" is the genuine article. It's got extra-long sleeves, so that when you stretch out to grab your throbbing bike handles, your cuffs are the right length. Chrome Hearts doesn't take such considerations into account. The people who wear its jackets are more likely to drive their egos than a motorbike.

The Chrome Hearts jacket may be made out of the softest, most durable leather and have hand-cast silver trimmings from here to Venice Beach, but who cares, if it makes you look like Cher or Steve Tyler? Get a grip.

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