As an antiwar message on the runway, you can’t do much better as a finale than Paul McCartney and John Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance.”
Of course, Stella McCartney has an in there. The designer also opened her fall show with a recording of John F. Kennedy’s extraordinary 1963 “A Strategy for Peace” speech. Together, they struck the best note possible in what is a widening disconnect between fashion and reality.
“This feels really strange,” the designer acknowledged of being at Paris Fashion Week while war is raging in Ukraine. “We did it during COVID-19 and now we’re in a situation that feels even sadder and stranger, so we wanted to make some kind of statement against war.”
McCartney’s brand of luxury has always had a conscience in one way or another, and this season, 67 percent of the collection was made with sustainable materials, including forest-friendly viscose, organic cotton, recycled nylon, recycled polyester, regenerative NATIVA wool and RWS wool from traceable sources.
“This collection was about bringing new fabrics to our brand,” she said, noting one: “Waste grape skins — so all the wine you have been drinking during lockdown has been made into bags.” Cheers to that at least.
Traceable, artful and, above all, wearable, this stellar Stella collection was all of that.
For a narrative thread, McCartney collaborated with the modern artist Frank Stella (Stella by Stella, get it?), bringing his signature splatters and stripes to life on the runway atop the Centre Pompidou, with Paris spread out below.
“His minimalism and maximalism are parallel to our brand. The more masculine side and the more explosive side tracks well,” she said of translating the artist’s riotous collages into allover printed jersey pieces and suiting, and his bold straight angle and diagonal stripes onto assertive chalk stripe tailoring, faux fur power coats, and graphic knits that made for very cool sweater dressing.
Flocked denim jeans and a sweetheart neckline fitted jacket, utility pants and shirts, and that Stella staple, the jumpsuit, in black, chocolate brown or burgundy made casual look special.
But there were lots of fabulous, flattering dresses, too — suspended from triangle bra tops, with draped sleeves and bubble hems, or in slick-looking coated georgette with cape effects creating a goddess-like grace.
After ending the weekend with a collection that felt like so much contrived cool, it was a breath of fresh air to start the new week with clothes that had stylish pragmatism without trying too hard.