Skiing has never been a sport for the poor and, while French purpose-built resorts with tourists in supermarket salopettes might try to convince the existence of skiing for all, consumerist driven global warming is making the mountains more exclusive in winter, as snows refuse to cooperate with school holidays and classic establishment high altitude ski-resorts get ever more expensive.
Certainly, looking cool while skiing on the cheap is a challenge. But if budget is no object, then there is a myriad of ways of spending a fortune on kitting yourself out to create either a low-key technical look, or that of a seriously high-end jet setter. Yet, money doesn’t always buy chic ski style, so Chamonix Stylist selects the most luxurious ski wear for rarefied slopes.
This winter the most luxe ski gear is fashioned in leather and combines contemporary biker chic with practical body protection. Unfortunately, the full set of Chanel ski leathers sported by Victoria Beckham a decade ago was only ever available to bespoke order, but these days you can get a down-filled and fur trimmed leather ski jacket by Austrian label SportAlm for £859 from posh ski outfitters www.winternational.co.uk.
Lacroix Skis, founded by French Olympic skier Léo Lacroix and not the designer Christian Lacroix (although the label has, for sure, benefitted from same name association confusion), this season has produced a full leather jacket in monochrome, with matching stretch ski pants with leather padded knees – the Distinction outfit comes in extravagant white or classic black, £989 and £699 top and bottom respectively from Harrods.
Lacroix also produces ski equipment, mainly designed for piste skiing, with just one snowboard and one pair of freeride skis in the range. Chanel has also produced a collection of snow-sports equipment: favoured, naturally, by Victoria Beckham, but similar to her Chanel ski leathers available to order only.
For bling skis that you don’t have to jump through social hoops to obtain, go for a pair of platinum or silver skis fashioned from expensive materials such as carbon, graphite and steel by Volant, from £1125 a pair to order from Snow+Rock.
Old school French brand Fusalp is also following the biker chic ski trend with its Bonneval jacket, that is actually cut as a classic zipped lapel motorbike jacket with leather padded shoulders, £690 from Net-a-Porter.
Not actual leathers you could ski in, but definitely extravagant biker outerwear, comes from Belstaff, the British label that has been fashion luxed-up to boast David Beckham as a face, with further adventure and expedition endorsement from Sir Ranulph Fiennes. Their CT Master Luxe parker is in waterproof waxed cotton with a removable quilted and fur trimmed liner – high protection from the elements, concrete hard pistes and anything cheap, £825.
Expensive Austrian brand popular with Euro royals, Toni Sailer, also has a biker inspired luxury ski jacket, Clothilde, which is fur lined and has leather reinforced shoulders and elbows, £1350 from www.matchesfashion.com.
Up-market American designer Sonya Chodry creates luxury winter wear – designed to take you from piste to 5-star cocktail bar – in leather, fur, cashmere and astrakahn. Her Elektra Military ski jacket in down-filled embroidered technical sateen, £1700 from Harrods, is an inspired blend of Knightsbridge and Aspen.
Chloé’s Snow stretch dungarees are certainly the coolest of salopettes on the ski wear market, as they are good-looking and great fitting, £870 from Net-a-Porter. Their oversized shearling and quilted parka, £3995, might be a bit much to ski aggressively in, but it will totally keep out all bad weather.
The Chloé Snow capsule collection also has merino wool mid-layers in old school sweater styles, although you could spend just as much on the quality witty woollens by Bella Freud (Net-a-Porter) that would do the job just as fashionably.
The best luxury ski jumpsuit of the season, however, has to be Fendi’s white double breast zip race-style onesie, only available by special order from www.fendi.com. Under this should be worn the merino wool Star Suit, £260, by the Chamonix-born brand that London fashionistas love, Perfect Moment.
Posh French skiers favour ski wear by luxury Franco-Italian brand Moncler, renowned for putting quilted down jackets on the society piste map, that has famous photographers Bruce Weber and Annie Leibowitz shooting its campaigns and endless celebrity endorsement. The white Grenoble jacket in quilting and shearling, from the Winter Princess collection, €1575, is a stunning bit of ski kit, combining glamour with technicality.
Indeed, every fashion house worth its white stuff is producing padded down jackets this winter, exemplified by everyone from Chanel to Cath Kidston, as fashion went wild for cold winter wear for this season, with fur trimmed everything and flowing shearling. Another Mont-Blanc status symbol is expedition clothing by Canada Goose, the Chilliwack bomber, £699 from Browns, Harvey Nichols or Harrods, is an excellent ski jacket with a coyote fur trimmed hood.
To keep delicate hands warm in suitably luxe style, Max Mara’s suede and rabbit gloves, £300 from www.matchesfashion.com, feel lovely and follow expedition form with furry backs that are soft on cold noses.
While to protect your grey matter and shield your face, invest in a Hibiscus helmet by Italian company Kask, £1399 from Harrods, which is integrated with a mirrored scroll down vizor, encrusted in Swarovski crystals, lined in merino wool, with real fur ear muffs – precious protective stuff.
May the snows be with you this winter and may only your credit card melt while you ski dress to excess.