Stella McCartney is a smooth operator. From the beginning she has put strong values — sustainability, cruelty-free clothes, environmental protection, female empowerment — at the core of her brand. They’re mini campaigns really, but handled on the sly, packaged as beautiful fashion or presented in a fizzy, fun atmosphere like her annual resort garden party held June 7 in New York. McCartney knows preaching is not chic.
Among the famous friends of Stella, including Alec Baldwin, Chris Rock, Lily Collins and Lauren Hutton, who mingled to the tranquil steel drum Bob Marley covers of Ky-Mani Marley, were Cyrill Gutsch, the founder of Parley, and Captain Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
“If we’re not lucky by 2050 there will be more plastic bottles in the ocean than living life…but it’s all going to be OK because we made them into a really pretty handbag in honor of Captain Watson,” said McCartney. “This man is a pirate. He’s about as punk rock as it gets. He’s fearless. He’s amazing.”
Watson and Gutsch collect plastic bottles from the ocean and put them to better use, such as developing Parley Ocean Plastic materials, yarn and fabric that’s being used in collaboration with McCartney on two new products: the Adidas by Stella McCartney Parley Ultra Boost shoe for fall and the limited-edition Ocean Legend Falabella backpack inspired by Watson. It benefits the Sea Sheperd Conservation Society in honor of its 40th anniversary.
Alas, there was more to the event that saving the ocean — specifically a really great collection of upbeat, unique but wearable clothes.
Under the light-up sign that spelled out “Stella” was a group of models in coolly tailored shirts spliced with ribbed knit panels stamped with Urs Fischer’s “All Is Love” motif in graphic letters. A dusty pink cashmere sweater with a U-shaped drawstring hem was made from post-use cashmere factory cuttings. A rust-colored masculine tailored suit was softened with a drawstring waist, and traditional dresses with tropical embroideries were left purposely undone, a panel untacked at the shoulder or waist as an ode to patternmaking as decoration.
“I wanted to really celebrate pattern-cutting, the season of spring and the idea of slicing, disrupting and unfolding. It felt young and spirited and a little point of difference,” said McCartney. “I want to stand out but I don’t want to stand out so much that I’m having too much conversation through what I’m wearing. These clothes are very much about you wearing them, and them not wearing you.
Over by a bird keeper in a Hawaiian shirt managing several feathered friends was a group of models in oversize Hawaiian/parrot prints, such as a shirt spliced with a long white panel over matching track pants with a red strip down the leg. A more graphic white-and-red paneled shirt was paired with an asymmetric gold lamé skirt gathered into pleats at the hip and worn with bright yellow trainers. And at the rear of the party, swaying to “One Love” were girls in the collection’s most formal — but not at all fussy — attire, including tailoring in elaborate gold tropical embroidery, and draped-caped dresses, simple in form but extraordinarily bold in color. Done in solid shades yellow, red and blue, they could get a conversation started.