Sunny Los Angeles was the setting for the spring Adidas by Stella McCartney presentation, shown at 3Labs in Culver City on Wednesday morning. Performance met fashion in the concrete studio space, which was transformed into five demonstration zones to represent various sport disciplines of training: swim, cycling, running and yoga.
Guest were invited to gather up close to film, snap and post images of the 19 models, who included Adidas ambassadors Hannah Bronfman, Chelsey Korus and Eniko Mihalik, as they danced, stretched, spun and even swam in McCartney’s colorful, printed and color-blocked pieces.
“The girls just look so cool, don’t they?” McCartney asked as she observed from the sidelines. “For us the collaboration is made to be shown in L.A. We celebrate being outside and you can pretty much be outside 24/7 on this side of the coast, and it’s really about what’s happening here in L.A. It’s so health-driven, a very holistic place to be and we identify with that as a house. It’s kind of how I live my life, so to really look at some of the up-and-coming sports and workouts happening here, and also celebrate the healthy living that happens here.”
Apart from being skilled with fabric — the 12-year-long collaboration has allowed her to design with cutting-edge technical materials such as Adidas’ ClimaLite mesh or SprintWeb spandex — McCartney also knows how to put on an entertaining show.
Thus, the “training” segment featured a demonstration of the latest fitness class craze from L.A., “Pound,” an adrenaline-boosting cardio routine with drumsticks, performed by Bronfman and three instructors, each decked out in cut-out racerback tank tops, fitted long-sleeve tops and shorts layered over leggings.
“The clothes actually helped me stay really cool,” said Bronfman afterward. “When you have clothes that are so high in performance, you don’t need to focus on anything besides what you are physically doing. You know there’s not going to be any malfunctions or discomfort or bunching.”
Each sport demonstration area was surrounded by giant video screens providing sensory overload in addition to the heart-thumping electronic tunes and authentic props — the cycling segment was led by a Flywheel instructor while images of New York City taxi cabs whizzed by, and the swimming segment featured waves in addition to the specially constructed pool the models did laps in (several members of the media got splashed with drops of chlorinated water).
Even the closing “cool-down” yoga segment was at the forefront of trendy: ambassador and yoga instructor Korus led a mini-class atop a paddle board balanced in a sandbox.
She made it look easy, although she said afterwards, “Have you tried it? It’s challenging, to say the least.” Of her gear, she said. “I feel fancy. I feel fashionable. I feel on point. It’s easy to wear and it’s easy to move in, which is the first thing I look for. I feel a little naked in a great way, which is how you want to feel for yoga.”
McCartney spoke to journalists on an outdoor patio outfitted with eco-friendly turf, picnic tables and flowers amid racks showcasing more of the 300-piece collection, which included running shoes made with Adidas Boost technology and McCartney’s take on the signature shower slide called the Recovery Slide, designed with Adissage insteps to massage the feet.
“What we deal with in the summer collection is still wanting to layer and bring a lot of cool-down and warm-up elements into the workout, which are some of the technologies that I am most excited about. Also, in this collection we have 38 percent sustainable materials, which I think is pretty unheard of in a high-technology performance collection,” she said, referring to the recycled nylons and organic cottons. Among her favorite pieces were low-waisted engineered knit pants with “amazing memory” that she said she wears most often.
It’s impossible for McCartney not to discuss her own fitness philosophy, since she’s her own best customer. “For me personally the best workout is variety. When you stick to the same thing over and over, you see less results, it becomes boring. We all live busy lives; women today are multitasking. I am trying to encourage this idea that you can work out outside, inside, anywhere, quickly, efficiently.”
Of her triathlon-themed demos, she said, “We introduced the category maybe six or seven years ago, and Adidas was like, ‘Triathlon? It’s not particularly feminine.’ A lot of the sports we’ve introduced are male-dominated sports and that’s changed.” What’s also changed is the versatility of clothing, not just with activewear, which she calls “sportswear.”
“What happens with sportswear is there is a slightly old-fashioned approach, where people like to be told that this is for running and this is for cycling. We don’t approach it like that. Tennis is tennis, but I don’t see why you can’t wear it when you are running, particularly because we don’t do white,” she said of the line’s range.
McCartney recalled her initial impetus for the line was the crossover element. “I didn’t want to be embarrassed when I ran into somebody on the way back from the gym or on the way to the gym. And I didn’t want to have to change what I was wearing to the gym because I wanted to go out for a drink later. I wanted to feel like I could put a cool jacket with a pair of jeans or a cool legging. I think that’s what you saw today. Those girls look really cool.”
As for her proclivity for colors and prints, she said, “It’s something that really hasn’t been in sportswear until more recently. And for us it can bring in a nice seasonal touch, a nice textural touch and visually it can break up a solid. I love solid pieces but I try to encourage women to introduce things other than black into their workout sportswear. We really work hard at covering up sweat, and print pieces are great for that.”
One is reminded of the pull McCartney has as a designer when she recalls her first meeting with Adidas. “They first asked me to do part of the Originals line and I was very flattered, but I was like, ‘Look, you guys don’t want me to design sweatpants or a hoodie for you. Your performancewear for women is not up to scratch and that’s something I really want to improve for women.’”
She added, “I set out to have a goal that you shouldn’t sacrifice your style for exercise. We are all conscious of how we look; this is the day and age we live in, whether that’s good or bad, and I want you to not have to worry when you wear it. We will make you look great, we will give you all the technology you need to perform, we will think about the environment. So we’ll tick every box I hope you want us to tick, and all you’ve got to do is the hard work.”
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