Of Steeds & Style

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If you are planning on heading to Hartwood Acres for the 29th Annual Family House Polo match this Saturday, it probably won't surprise you that from fashion to furnishings designers have been harnessing the equestrian look since the dawn of the jodhpur. The body hugging attire of the horsey set and the accoutrements of their four- legged partners have inspired consumers to unbridle their passion for the pony. No American designer has tapped into that desire better than Ralph Lauren, who chose the sport of kings as his iconic emblem. Today the polo player astride his steed is emblazoned on the chests of millions of people around the globe.

In the 1960s Jackie Kennedy's love of horseback riding had mothers across the country dressing their little girls in faux riding hats and red jackets with black velvet collars. It was also in the '60s that Gucci added the metal horse bit to its loafers, whipping consumers into a buying frenzy for the fashionable footwear that has since become a classic. The company has sponsored amateur equestrian, Charlotte Casiraghi, daughter of Princess Caroline of Monaco, and makes all her riding attire. It will be launching a limited edition of it in November. Gucci is also using Ms. Casiraghi as the face of its fall/winter 2012 campaign.

Another house of the horse is French luxury goods purveyor Hermes. Its origin in 1837 was as a simple harness shop in Paris. The horse and Duc carriage logo harks back to the 1950s, and many of the legendary company's designs are sought-after classics. From bridle patterned scarves to blankets and blazers, Hermes is all about the ride.

Two more retailers corralling the look for the season are Anthropologie with its Gate & Gallop horse dress, and Talbots, which is featuring clutches and jackets with the horse bit detail.

While blazers and boots, belts and bonnets have found numerous incarnations on the runways and have become wardrobe staples, closets aren't the only place equine lovers have left their mark. Designer Julie Bova, of Julie Bova Interior Design, has a horse and has let her equestrian lifestyle influence her home collection for Stanford Furniture. She embellished the Yonkers ottoman, the Shire end table and the Wildaire mirror with a horse bit detail. Mr. Brown London, a furnishings and accessory manufacturer, introduced the Dressage Collection at the International Home Furnishings Market in High Point, N.C. It features coasters, napkin rings, trays and more in aged brown leather straps and with brass buckles. Lamps, chairs, bookends and beds have all been branded at some point or another by sport minded designers.


Patricia Sheridan: psheridan@post-gazette.com.


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