Oh for the English country life! Where, armed with sensible tweedsand cozy, textured knits against the moody weather, one can immerseherself in the storied local romance. Yeah, right. For most women,including Stella McCartney, country respites must be wedged between themore hectic demands of everyday reality. Thus, the designer transportedsartorial elements of life’s leisure side into a collection as urbane asit was functional. It looked terrific.

A major focus, executed brilliantly: clothes for the workingwoman that ranged from the controlled slouchiness of low-slung trousersto the considerably more feminine. Among the stars here was a group ofappropriately curvaceous brown tweed dresses (there were outerwearpieces as well) with ribbed knit collars and a trio of gently coloredknits — pink suit, gray hourglass dress, newfangled blue twinset —worked in the multitextured Aran tradition. In fact, surface interestwas one of the show’s unifying motifs, whether in tone-on-tone jacquardsor swirly graphic embroideries in variations of black, white andmidnight blue.

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