This is a carpe diem moment for Stella McCartney. On the business side, she and Kering are rumored to be reevaluating their 50-50 partnership at a time of strong growth for the company (turnover in the U.K. is up 31 percent in the year ending Dec. 31, 2016). Now, at this most peculiar moment in fashion, McCartney finds herself in a leadership position, not only regarding sustainability and the increasing pan-industry zeal to dump fur, but designwise. While others in the luxury sector are feverishly trying (with mixed results) to embrace casual and street, McCartney has been there all along, part of her focus on real-world dressing with ease. Case in point: she was a sneaker devotee long before the craze kicked in, and put plenty on her fall runway, now made with stitching and hooks in place of glue.
That doesn’t mean she’s standing still. For her coed show on Monday, McCartney turned a tad experimental. As usual, she started with feminine and masculine tropes, deconstructing and recombining, not in a manner that looked laborious or tricked-out but deftly — alluring tailored looks made from blocks of several soft fabrics, with the ease of pajamas; a notched-collar, herringbone coat with zipper closure instead of buttons. A gray Aran sweater was blown up to exaggerated proportions and knitted slightly askew with a deep slit, the better to see the diaphanous skirt below. And speaking of airy, McCartney veered from her focus on tailoring with silk slips tacked onto the front of dresses, lace evening beauties inspired by vintage bridal gowns, and sheer overlays that veiled the collection’s most artful element — dresses and tops printed with repros of J.H. Lynch’s midcentury portraits of glam women, and color-saturated floral postcards. These projected a sense of latent daring that charmed.
McCartney’s men’s wear worked many of the same motifs, including Aran knits and the fabric-blocked tailoring, the latter looking bolder for men that women. But she offered as well plenty of inviting sportswear and tailored options of a more classic ilk — read: great-looking and highly wearable. When it comes to the application of her premise of practical chic, McCartney takes a gender-neutral approach.