The ‘it’ coat this winter is… a pasta puffer?

The statement jacket designed by Rachel Antonoff and patterned with farfalle has become a social-media and street-style sensation. (Photo: Jessica White/NYTimes)
When Bani Randhawa started wearing her new coat a few months ago, something funny happened: Strangers smiled at her as they passed. Babies in strollers pointed at her. Others stopped her on the street, all with the same question: Is that farfalle on your jacket?اضافة اعلان

“I have never experienced that while wearing another article of clothing,” said Randhawa, 27, who attends business school in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The coat in question is the Rachel Antonoff Parker Puffer, a short, black jacket printed with golden images of bow tie pasta.

In a sea of drab, black winter coats, the pasta puffer stands alone. “You are that girl when you wear it,” Randhawa said.

The coat has suddenly become a seasonal phenomenon in US cities like New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. Social media is littered with photos of people posing in it. Actor Mindy Kaling has worn it. So has actor Dylan O’Brien. The farfalle has become Rachel Antonoff’s bestselling print, and the jacket — which retails for $425 — has sold out three times since it was introduced at the end of 2021, Antonoff said.

“I feel like a winter coat with pasta all over it is a little bit of joy,” she said.

This winter, the pasta puffer has been especially conspicuous. Lauren Goldstein, 26, who works in social media and marketing in New York’s Manhattan borough and owns the coat, said this could be a result of the unseasonably warm weather in many parts of the country, which allows for outerwear that prioritizes fashion over function.

The pasta coat is “my entire personality this winter”, she said.

Food patterns: ‘Like the new florals’It is not unheard-of for outerwear to develop a cult following. But the pasta puffer seems more niche.
In a sea of drab, black winter coats, the pasta puffer stands alone. “You are that girl when you wear it.”
“Before the pandemic, we were very often told, ‘This is way too loud, too much, this doesn’t merchandise,’” said Antonoff, who has been making food-themed garments like babka sweaters and dresses decorated with seafood towers since 2015. Then the lockdowns happened, and many people spending their workdays on Zoom calls were looking for a way to provoke conversation. “We noticed that people are being seen from waist up, and they wanted to have a big bagel on their sweater.”

The excitement for those styles has remained, she said.

Laura Nguyen, an account executive in the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood of New York, said that during the pandemic she grew tired of her “bluish-gray professional clothes” from Ann Taylor. She decided to refresh her wardrobe, and at the end of 2021 rented the pasta puffer from the website Rent the Runway.

“Adding food into patterns and fashion is like the new florals,” said Nguyen, 25.

Sam Hwang, 25, who lives in Huntington Beach, California, and also owns the coat, said its popularity speaks to the way many people are more body-positive, and make their favorite dishes part of their identity. Other designers, like Lisa Says Gah and Susan Alexandra, have drawn attention for their food-themed fashion.

Wear it onceRental companies have also played a role in the pasta puffer’s ubiquity. The coat has been rented more than 1,000 times through the clothing rental service Nuuly. On Rent the Runway, rentals of the coat grew by 10 percent from fall and winter of 2021 to the same period in 2022 — a rarity for any item of clothing, said Jennifer Hyman, the company’s co-founder and CEO.
“It kind of only works once… You go to an event with the pasta coat, and you talk about the pasta coat. It is not going to be as impressive the second time you see it.”
A bold jacket like the pasta puffer is ideal for temporary ownership, said Sarah Margulies, 29, a Boston-area lawyer who rented the coat in January. “It kind of only works once,” she said.

“You go to an event with the pasta coat, and you talk about the pasta coat. It is not going to be as impressive the second time you see it.”

‘Obsessed’But the effect the coat seems to have on people is undeniable.

Sarah Katz-Hyman, 33, who works for a nonprofit in San Francisco and rented the coat last spring on Nuuly, said it made her more extroverted. “It is nice to be able to put on a piece of clothing and Sasha Fierce it,” she said.

She missed the coat so much after she returned it that she posted on Twitter a video montage of herself wearing it, set to the plaintive Sarah McLachlan song “Angel”. Someone at Nuuly saw the tweet and sent her a free coat.

“People were giddy when they saw me wearing it,” said Hannah Tate, 29, who works at a health products company in Chicago. She rented the coat in December and again in January.

Katey Ghobrial, who works in marketing at Yelp in New York, said a server at Greenwich Village restaurant Minetta Tavern sat down at her table to discuss the pasta puffer when she wore it to dinner recently.

“I feel like a total celebrity,” said Ghobrial, 32.

But many pasta puffer enthusiasts also acknowledged the jacket’s downsides: It is not very warm. It is boxy. It is expensive.

Alex Bruza, 31, an advertising employee in Los Angeles, rented the coat in December and said it was “not that flattering”, as it “jutted out on the bottom, and it made me look a little bigger”.

But with a coat like this, it is not really about the fit. It is about the joy.

“I was still obsessed with it,” she said.

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