Reverend Run, the owner of a dapper collection of capes, will not be pushing this fall trend on others. He’s prepared to own the cape all by his superhero-fighting self, he said in an interview last week with E! Online. “On the album cover, I’m standing on a rock, and below me everything is flooded and the buildings are on fire. So, it’s like Super Reverend coming to save the universe with the old-school rap, with the cape on, with the collar.”
Unbeknownst to Run, he’s spelled out the challenge of the cape: It will never lose its costumey associations with the superhero, the evil underlord, or the slightly daffier Three Musketeer. If you wear the cape, expect to be wearing it alone.
Curious, then, that some of our more popular retail chains—Club Monaco, Zara—are marketing the armless wonder this season. The coat does, however, happen to fall in line with both the Victorian romantic trend and Alexander McQueen’s much-mimicked Hitchcock siren theme. Ending around hip-length and buttoning up front, it resembles a pea coat, without arms. Admittedly, less heroism is needed to don this version, as it cleaves more to a safer 1950s incarnation than any favored by Dracula or Space Ghost.
Its armless status still poses a problem, though. What if you need those limbs? What if you would like to, say, eat a pickle? Your cape will not permit you to eat that pickle. While giving you a swashbuckling, stylish presence, it renders you pickle-less. Some larger retailers, like H&M, have addressed the issue, altering the coat by adding hidden armholes, visible only to the wearer. Although it does make getting around easier, it’s a wanky cape cop-out.
This wouldn’t be a dilemma if the superhero cape were in vogue because you would still have use of your arms. But sporting one of these is an even more audacious move—a cape of that make and model is the ultimate holdout, separating the intrepid few who choose to embrace it as personal trademark. In short, you’d have to be one super-confident mofo who doesn’t give a crap. For the time being, that might be restricted to diehard Goths and the great Reverend Run. “It’s my own statement. I’m not trying to pull anybody else in on that,” Run confidently concluded. “They’re gonna love it on me.”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 27, 2005