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.

But perhaps the biggest breakout star in recent years has been Moncler, famous for quilted black jackets popular with champagne ski-set members such as Mariah Carey and Heidi Klum. The hardly entry-level starter line is simply called Moncler, offering signature shiny black jackets that maximize slopeside comfort and warmth. Buyers should stick to snugger sizes, as the marshmallowlike shape can give the illusion of added pounds. This season the collection offers more earthy colors, such as hunter green vests, flannel gray parkas and aviator-style jackets with racing-stripe sleeve details. An accessories line now includes a selection of quilted boots and fur-trimmed handbags for women.

Last year Moncler debuted designer collaborations with Thom Browne and Giambattista Valli, who put their stamps on Moncler Gamme Bleu and Moncler Gamme Rouge, high-end men's and women's lines. This season Valli's Gamme Rouge women's collection utilizes creamy whites and all-black coloring for quilted over-jackets with exaggerated collars and cable-knit leggings with matching cashmere gloves. Dressier ensembles seem more geared toward dinner at Badrutt's than traversing Buttermilk, considering their draped-ribbon detailing on moss-colored cashmere dresses with matching gloves and leggings, keeping every inch of flesh hidden from the neck down.

Elements of utilitarianism and collegiate playfulness abound in the men's collection, which is just as easily worn down Fifth Avenue as Whistler Peak. Browne's signature looks for the year were debuted in Milan via an infantry-inspired catwalk of army cots and wake-up trumpets; models took off their cashmere-knit sleeping caps to strut around in a collection of quilted shorts with cashmere leggings, collegiate possibly the most exquisitely styled ski clothing ever made, and sure to make you the talk of any lift-line, whether in Verbier or Vail.

>To submit a news tip, email: tips@thestreet.com.

RELATED STORIES:



Follow TheStreet.com on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.

Michael Martin is the managing editor of JetSetReport.com, a luxury travel and lifestyle guide based in Los Angeles and London. His work has appeared in InStyle, Blackbook, Elle, U.K.'s Red magazine and on ITV and the BBC.

More from Personal Finance

What Is Cristiano Ronaldo's Net Worth?

What Is Cristiano Ronaldo's Net Worth?

3 Apps Than Make Retirement Planning Fun for Millennials

3 Apps Than Make Retirement Planning Fun for Millennials

What the Fed Rate Hike Means For You

What the Fed Rate Hike Means For You

What Is Drew Brees' Net Worth?

What Is Drew Brees' Net Worth?

The Best Places to Live in the U.S. if You're Young and Broke

The Best Places to Live in the U.S. if You're Young and Broke