Stella McCartney’s models came out for their finale, arms outstretched, hands flapping, the start of an upbeat dance choreographed by Blanca Li. It divided the girls into two urban tribes — sort of like Sharks and Jets, only female, and playful in squaring off because, well, why fight? The celebratory gumption — including the range of tush-shaking abilities on display — coerced smiles from even the grumpiest of 10 a.m. Grumpy Gus types in the audience. It was, to use a descriptive infrequently invoked about fashion shows, fun. And not in the way that going to fashion shows on the worst day is fun as opposed to, say, doing your taxes or having a root canal, but deliberate, unapologetic fun of the sort appropriate to beautiful, well turned-out young women with their whole lives ahead of them. McCartney’s reason for this most atypical of curtain calls: “girl power.”
Girl power rooted in the power of positive thinking, “capturing the spirit of life and love in the spirit of summer,” she wrote in her program notes. On the runway, the premise erupted in a conflux of ideas — tribal meets athletic meets men’s wear meets corsetry — delivered with a cohesion that belied the far-flung references. McCartney has a knack for incorporating a lot of fashion almost slyly, while keeping the attitude light and approachable. These were not simple clothes; some pushed flagrantly in terms of volume and silhouette.
As always, McCartney offered options. On the polished side, corseted cottons with shoulder volume via either structure or exaggerated sleeves came in glam day dresses and shirts with paperbag waists. Ath-leisure took a performance turn in great-looking scuba-inspired swimsuits worn as sportswear with pants and shirts. On the tribal side, washed burlaps and muslins became dresses that fell from necklines ruched with an artisanal hand, creating an inviting ripple effect. As for pants: genie pants that worked, including a pair in the palest pink worn with a loose knit tank. And that utilitarian jumpsuit — could it have been suede? What do you think? These many years after Halston made it famous, Ultrasuede can still strut with style.
On the Ultrasuede front (sort of), the message of this collection wasn’t only of the fashion sort (i.e. feel good in your clothes): McCartney applied her spirit of life and love to messaging. Many of the pieces flashed “no fur” and “no leather” along with “all is love” and “thanks, girls.” It didn’t feel a bit sanctimonious, perhaps because the slogans were delivered in prints far more imaginative than a basic message T. Life, love and fashion. What’s not to smile about?