Stella McCartney: Talk about a moment of change. Stella McCartney, fashion’s newest multitasker, is a brand-new mom spending Paris Fashion Week at home in London with week-old baby Miller. On the work front, like all of her designing Gucci Group colleagues, McCartney finds herself within a dramatically altered corporate landscape. Once both shielded and shadowed by an invincible flagship, her company and the group’s other fledgling brands now must feel pressure to develop not only on the runway but also at retail, and fast. Yet in challenge lies opportunity. 

Though she staged her show from a distance, McCartney still seized the moment to send a distinct message — this is a more grown-up, grounded Stella McCartney. It was a savvy shift and made for one of her best collections. Certainly it was her most refined, as McCartney seemed to close the door definitively on the rock-chick shtick from which she’s been distancing herself in recent seasons.   

In its place: clothes with a broader reach and greater chic. Always a fan of tailored cool, for fall she expanded its appeal beyond the London “It” girl set. Blouson jackets wrapped at the waist read racy Eighties, while beautiful coats, some cut with long torsos and belled skirts, looked positively lady-fied. Well, almost, since McCartney slipped in just a touch of the bad girl in over-the-knee laced boots that lost not a bit of edge in faux leather. Sweaters made for another motif. Though they came cozy, overgrown and in chunky tweeds — a long, cutaway cardigan over pants-in-boots; a big-sleeved turtleneck stretched into a dress — they escaped dishevelment. McCartney went gentler with silk dresses, such as a blue computer-dot print cinched at the waist and a blush pink dress worn with a sorority-girl pullover. Evening was all about the little cocktail dress, and sometimes Stella tried to work too much detail into too little space. But the real strength of this collection was its wealth of inviting clothes for the bright light of day.

Rochas: Everyone’s favorite Goth-loving boy is all grown up. With his fine-tuned, elegant fall collection, Olivier Theyskens proved that Rochas can blossom and grow beyond his demure day suits and infanta-grade ball gowns — and that he’s the man to take the house to the next level. Somber Victoriana has always been close to Theyskens’ melancholic heart, though this season he pared down the era’s hallmark jackets and long skirts into one long, lean, dramatic silhouette. Slim jackets were frilled with simple ruffles edged with lashes of mohair, while tiered skirts fell straight to the floor and trailed trains. But while Theyskens tread on moody terrain, decorating several looks with black appliquéd butterflies, he never let the look turn heavy. Airiness floated things right along with gowns of tiered snowy lace, as well as ones in gently rippling chiffon that twisted at the neckline into delicate rosettes.

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