#SuzyPFW: Stella McCartney: Will She Go It Alone?
Was Stella McCartney’s show of dynamic sportswear, laced with a soupçon of femininity, her last in the Palais Garnier opera house, which she has used since the beginning?
“It’s public knowledge that there’s an option for me to buy back my 50 per cent from Kering,” said Stella, referring to the partnership she has had since 2001 with the French luxury group.
Whether or not the expected break comes, it is certain that the British designer will not change her commitment to good practice, or her refusal to use any kind of animal parts. This has been central to the brand since its founding.
Let’s start with the invitation: it was a pair of socks made, each recipient was informed, from “post-industrial textile waste, to create high-quality upcycled yarns through a process that used zero water, zero dyes and no harsh chemicals”. Such commitment is rare in an industry where only two per cent of fashion cast-offs are recycled.
But unusual, too, is Stella’s view of women, which long preceded current discussions about decently female clothes that suit modern lives. She sent out a collection with a small group of men’s clothes – another first for the designer. But the focus was, as usual, on the practical, soft trousers that formed not only the lower part of a suit, but also an addition to a filmy dress. Other more complex ideas included a pair of shorts doubling over slouchy trousers.
These “clothes for the lives we lead” were nothing new for Stella. But tailored, checked coats were well cut, and the rest of her familiar output seemed particularly relevant to current times.
Knitted dresses – like giant, oversize sweaters – were appealing. A mighty shawl layered with different materials, or a transparent top and skirt, seemed more complicated.
“They are all made out of materials that are mindful, sustainable, sourced and manufactured in the right way,” the designer said. So, for fake fur, sometimes the fibres are not the most brilliant things for the planet, but we make sure they are. The fake leather we have worked on for years, so there are many different types in the show. Some are completely biodegradable, some are canvasses that will go into vegetable oils, some are using PVC.”
In the show there seemed to be a big gap between the menswear and the women’s lingerie look, especially when the painting of a woman’s head popped up on a female chest. But the designer insisted that all her fashion apples fell from the same tree.
“I studied Savile Row tailoring, and even my degree show at St Martin’s had men’s tailoring and women’s slip dresses,” she said. “So I think this season was really for me to analyse, when there are so many fashion houses, what do we do best at Stella McCartney, and why do people come to us? It’s about modernising it, bringing it into today and having humour – and showing the male and female relationship is critical.”
My bet will be on Stella choosing to go it alone for her company. She is, after all, a very strong woman.