It’s all in the name.
Capes may be fashion’s most versatile garment. I mean, what other piece can simultaneously conjure images of a late 2000s Blair Waldorf, a “Sad Affleck” in superhero tights, and a rainy ride on a Log Flume?
Enter Bettina Mueller Reichl, founder of Vancouver-based Cape de Coeur and avid cape enthusiast. Playing on the French adage coup de coeur (which roughly translates to “something you love”), the brand was born out of a need for stylish rainwear. “We call it a technical high fashion brand,” says Reichl. “The idea was to create a new category of outerwear because I truly believe that it should be practical as much as it should be beautiful.”
Although the Austrian-born designer has over 25 years of experience in the fashion industry, she credits the weather in British Columbia as the initial source of inspiration behind the label. “One day when I was still working at Lululemon, my colleague came in and started to complain about the rain and how there are no nice raincoats,” Reichl reflects. “That was the moment where I was like, ‘Oh my God, there’s a gap in the market!’ Because there are many functional jackets but none that you could wear with Chanel.”
With that in mind, FASHION spoke with the creative director on sustainability, West Coast style, and everything else involving capes.
How would you describe the style of your brand in three words?
“Powerful, spirited, innovative.”
“I love the drama! I love the history of the cape and how powerful they can make you feel on a psychological level. But they’re also incredibly functional. Capes effortlessly protect your beautiful outfit and accessories from the elements.”
What’s one piece from your new collection that is especially meaningful to you?
Without a doubt, it’s the ‘Guardian’ — I’ve had the most incredible in-store shopping experiences with this cape. When shoppers try it on, they say, “Oh my God, I feel so strong,” and that is the biggest reward as a designer, to know your work has made someone feel great!
What would you say makes your capes so unique?
All Cape de Coeur pieces are crafted in the brand’s proprietary CoeurTex™ fabrication. The material is very special and was only invented a couple of years ago. I found it through the activewear world – where there is so much technical innovation — and it was initially developed for mountaineering jackets, so the cape is wind, water and snow proof but without looking “plastic-y.” We also use a three-layer system with a membrane in the middle that’s incredibly breathable and then an inner layer to keep the wearer comfortable.
What is something about your brand that would surprise people?
We’re a team made up of independent experts in various fields. We don’t have a traditional model where there’s a CEO and coworkers in an office. I work with people from all over the world.
How does your brand approach sustainability?
I genuinely believe the best way to be sustainable is to shop for quality versus quantity. At Cape de Coeur, we focus on creating pieces that you can keep in your closet for multiple seasons and maintaining a short supply chain to reduce our environmental impact.
How would you describe Vancouver’s style?
I would say the West Coast “uniform” is Lululemon leggings, Blundstone boots and a waterproof jacket. It’s a very useful and practical way to dress, but it has to be because it rains so much.
What is your favourite season, based solely on wardrobe?
Fall! I love outerwear and layering.
What is the most-worn item in your closet?
My husband teases me about it constantly, but I wear my black Rag & Bone jeans all the time!