One of the many high points of fashion — and even this deep into theseason, there are gleeful moments — is finding something fresh in thefamiliar. Gender play, girls-will-be-boys, call it what you will, theincorporation of mannish motifs into women’s clothes is an oft-used,classic conceit. In the collection she showed on Monday, StellaMcCartney manipulated one of its obvious elements — pinstripes — intosomething new and utterly engaging. Part of the appeal was that shepretty much extracted the androgyny; her chalky stripes may be theancestral cloth of the lords of banking, but she delivered them with nosmall measure of distaff allure.

McCartney opened with tailoringmanipulated via creative draping; for example, she twisted and cut anultrachic jacket on a slant, which resulted in an uneven hem. This wentover a long, front-draped skirt in a narrower pinstripe. She then ranwith the pattern in various widths, going softer in dresses, bothaustere and long-sleeved and unexpectedly strapless, and dressed down ina big parka and terrific loose, twisty-turny sweaters.

Ever thefashion pragmatist, McCartney seldom loses sight of the importance offunction and comfort, a fact she loves to flag on her runway. Here, hercontributions to the season’s major coat moment were bold of proportionand in one case, color — a violet bouclé topper. The comfort factorcontinued in a luxed-up jogging suit and boxy tartans-meets-denim jacketover a flippy skirt that had a not-too-naughty-school-girl appeal. Andshe turned the always-inviting sweater dress sexy by splicing it withprovocatively revealing lace.

Evening offered nods to thesmoking as well as wonderfully languid options. These included longdresses made from linear but loose lengths of silk given shape (and heldin place) by wide, covered elastic bands, one at the top and the other,midthigh, creating a slight blouson effect. In other words, they werestrapless dresses that didn’t look like every other strapless dress,which is to say, constructed, stiff and boring. And they were beautiful.Brava.

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