What was that thing Natalia Vodianova was wearing on her face atop a lovely pleated trapeze? A smile? Indeed so, and it telegraphed Stella McCartney’s optimistic spring message as obviously as Trey Speegle’s huge paint-by-numbers mural of the Arc de Triomphe emblazoned with a giant YES.
But then, McCartney has plenty to be positive about, starting with her company’s recently announced 2008 U.K. ready-to-wear sales figures, up nearly 20 percent over 2007. While this year’s number will almost surely reflect the impact of the global economic crisis, the ’08 results indicate the powerful way in which McCartney has come to connect with women who appreciate her clothes’ unfettered chic and workability.
That combination is no accident, but something the designer takes pains to deliver, this season with distinctive restraint. In a season rampant with flou, she preferred the look of a sleek, sexy lace halter under a jacket. In fact, she upped her tailoring ante, sometimes going ultramannish with the cut but working in shiny silk shantung, and at others, adding a large, unfussy ruffled lapel or peplum. For downtime, she offered comfy stretches of gray jersey as well as denim washed for comfort but mercifully free of pretend tatters. For evening, McCartney let loose with flamboyant, colorful florals on delightful flyaway shapes, both short and long.
Back to her show’s wacky accessory, the occasional smile: It’s one more designers should consider on occasion. It suits all models and looks as inviting as any bauble.