One of the many high points of fashion — and even this deep into the season, there are gleeful moments — is finding something fresh in the familiar. Gender play, girls-will-be-boys, call it what you will, the incorporation of mannish motifs into women’s clothes is an oft-used, classic conceit. In the collection she showed on Monday, Stella McCartney manipulated one of its obvious elements — pinstripes — into something new and utterly engaging. Part of the appeal was that she pretty much extracted the androgyny; her chalky stripes may be the ancestral cloth of the lords of banking, but she delivered them with no small measure of distaff allure.
McCartney opened with tailoring manipulated via creative draping; for example, she twisted and cut an ultrachic jacket on a slant, which resulted in an uneven hem. This went over a long, front-draped skirt in a narrower pinstripe. She then ran with the pattern in various widths, going softer in dresses, both austere and long-sleeved and unexpectedly strapless, and dressed down in a big parka and terrific loose, twisty-turny sweaters.
Ever the fashion pragmatist, McCartney seldom loses sight of the importance of function and comfort, a fact she loves to flag on her runway. Here, her contributions to the season’s major coat moment were bold of proportion and in one case, color — a violet bouclé topper. The comfort factor continued in a luxed-up jogging suit and boxy tartans-meets-denim jacket over a flippy skirt that had a not-too-naughty-school-girl appeal. And she turned the always-inviting sweater dress sexy by splicing it with provocatively revealing lace.
Evening offered nods to the smoking as well as wonderfully languid options. These included long dresses made from linear but loose lengths of silk given shape (and held in place) by wide, covered elastic bands, one at the top and the other, midthigh, creating a slight blouson effect. In other words, they were strapless dresses that didn’t look like every other strapless dress, which is to say, constructed, stiff and boring. And they were beautiful. Brava.