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Stella McCartney

Pretty sportif — that’s the niche Stella McCartney has carved out for herself, and on Thursday morning it made for a fresh, utterly delightful collection.<BR><BR><BR>

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Pretty sportif — that’s the niche Stella McCartney has carved out for herself, and on Thursday morning it made for a fresh, utterly delightful collection.

Aspiring designers could take a lesson from McCartney, who endured some rough patches while finding her place in the overstuffed arena that is fashion. Through trial, error and a lot of hard work, she has managed to make the transition from a cheeky/cheesy aesthetic to one of youthful, breezy chic while retaining her core: cool, Savile Row-rooted tailoring played against ultra-easy pieces, and often cribbing from athletic standards.

This combination played perfectly into the shirt craze du jour, but while other designers gussy up the classic, she worked its natural simplicity.

First look out: a long, mannish jacket over a leggy shirt-cum-romper. That most difficult of items, the little onesie — with one foot in the nursery, the other in tap class and both typically on the threshold of silly — developed into another motif that McCartney made work, both in those snappy shirts and playful bubble shapes.

Her dresses, layered tanks and fluff-sleeved trapezes had the same nonchalance and greater range. As for the sports references, they came no-nonsense, in simple anoraks, and sweet, in the most sedate two-piece swimsuit this side of “Beach Blanket Bingo.”

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