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Ski Couture Puts Posh in the Piste

Once a marketplace of one-piece bibs with pull-up straps and elastic waists, ski fashion may have finally caught up to its couture cousins.

In recent years, fashion lines such as Moncler have looked to expand their reach to the high-end ski market -- for men as well as women.

Some trace the ski couture movement back to those Bogner one pieces with flashy metal zippers and Alpine fabrics. They put the German label on the American ski map. Others point to French label Salomon, now part of Finland's Amer Sports, and its iconic Advance Skin line in the late 1990s, which took ski fashion from shiny synthetic to smooth Gore-Tex-based fabrics that moved and felt like skin. Bolder labels such as Chanel and Prada were next up, emerging with logo-emblazoned ensembles, personalized skis and iconic jackets that soon became the prerequisite look for such celebrity skiers as Victoria Beckham and a certain league of Aspen housewives.

Moncler Gamme Bleu's men's collection is just as easily worn down Fifth Avenue as Whistler Peak.

Perhaps the most recognizable brand in U.S. luxury clothing market, RLX by Ralph Lauren, is also one of America's most prestigious names on the slopes. It helps that Ralph Lauren was one of the first high-fashion ski labels to insert Avalanche Rescue System sensors into its ski jackets, free of up-charge, but it's really about the fashion. This year RLX by Ralph Lauren debuted a larger line, showing off more minimal striped detailing than in previous years, a scaled-down RLX logo and a mostly black collection of heavily quilted silhouettes with under-layers and fitted trousers with a tapered inseam. The "Snow Pant," ideal for snowboarders, is made of a breathable yet waterproof microfiber and has an adjustable belted waistline that forgives for between-season weight gain.

A few new labels are making a mark among the perennial favorites. Vancouver-based Arc'teryx (company namesake Archaeopteryx Lithographica, the world's first reptile to develop feathers for flight, is even more of a mouthful) specializes in impeccable tailored outdoor and transitional ski garments and prides itself on construction and the fact it's "the only major outdoor clothing manufacturer to have its own manufacturing facilities." Their Veilance Collection is more ideal for warmer ski days and snowy city life; the tailored jackets are so stylish many choose to use them as weekend jackets even when there's no white-out blizzard conditions.
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