Riding on the increased focus on the fight against climate change, the fashion industry’s eco-pioneer Stella McCartney turned parts of her Paris Fashion Week show into a manifesto on ecology.
At her first show as part of the LVMH luxury conglomerate, the British-American designer is hoping she can change fashion from within, one collection at a time.
Here are some highlights of Monday’s ready-to-wear 2020 spring-summer collections:
MCCARTNEY GOES UNDERSTATED FOR SPRING
Stella McCartney let loose at the Paris’ Opera Garnier with a deceptively simple collection of fluidly feminine designs that retained its freshness via voluminous proportions.
The 51 soft looks, centering on optical stripes and decorative embroideries, were shown to a contrasting thumping soundtrack, peppered with expletives. It had guests including “Game of Thrones” actress Maisie Williams and British singer Ellie Goulding smiling.
At times, guests’ attention wandered to clips of mating wild animals that McCartney had chosen to project on the gilded, golden 19th-century opera house walls.
The understated collection’s styles, rather than provoke, created harmony.
Gentle shapes in the form of flattened torsos, rounded shoulders and high flat waists were sometimes given an optical lift by teeming boho florals.
They riffed on McCartney’s signature hints of men’s tailoring and sportswear.
The strongest looks were the fruit of simple, yet bold, designs ideas: Such as a luxuriant flappy copper skirt constructed by two large discs of material stitched at the sides.
All clothes were, of course, 100% eco-friendly — although in the luxury appearance of the material, it wasn’t apparent.
“I hope that when you see that fashion show, you don’t see in any way that it’s a sustainable fashion show. And yet it is … It’s about being desirable and beautiful and luxurious,” McCartney said.
“That is the future of fashion. We have to get to that place,” she added.
THE AGE OF STELLA
Each guest was given “program notes” that had little directly to do with the collection they were about to see.
Instead of the usual blurb about a collection’s starting point, at Monday’s morning show the text was a sort of eco-manifesto, which detailed in timeline-form all Stella McCartney has done over two decades at the top of fashion to help promote ecological awareness.
“I wanted to bring everything I’ve done since day one into the conversation, because it’s so important the fashion industry doesn’t make (ecology) a trend,” she told The Associated Press.
McCartney said she felt like the ecological awareness that has been central to her message since forgoing leather, fur, skin, feather and animal glue in 2001 is finally part of a global conversation — and one that extends far beyond the industry.
“It’s been an incredible week for me to observe outside of our industry. The climate crisis has just been so explosive and everyone’s been talking about it,” she said.
Without naming her directly, she evoked the 16-year-old environmental activist Greta Thunberg and the focus on the fight against climate change at the United Nations.
“The younger generation are standing up and telling us that our house is on fire and we need to respond,” she said.
Across the years, McCartney has introduced incremental changes, such as in 2010, when the designer went PVC free and, in 2015, when she launched fur-free fur. She says she hopes that little by little, these small changes will move the entire industry in a more ecological direction.
McCartney’s late mother Linda McCartney was a high-profile animal rights activist and in some ways she has seized the mantle of her work.
It was appropriate the interview was interrupted by the visit of another of fashion’s activist figures, Vivienne Westwood, who poked her head backstage alongside former Beatle father Paul McCartney.
They were followed by model Natalia Vodianova, who was wearing a vegan leather coat.
It prompted one fashion critic to quip: “I can’t believe it’s not bison.”
Spring is a season that comes naturally to a designer like flower-loving Giambattista Valli.
Checks, ribbons and embroideries teemed on the mainly-bright designs — ones that clung closely to the Italian designer’s trademark floral motifs inside the historic Museum of Decorative Arts.
This season, Valli also explored flowers in a figurative way.
They were evoked in the actual shapes and silhouettes of the diaphanous and frothy silk gowns.
Pale feather head pieces that were designed in circles evoked petals.
While round, gathered shoulder sections were constructed in a “dropped” fashion on the elbows, conjuring up images of a flower opening up in full bloom.
Some of the best designs employed these flower metaphors: Such as a sporty, white shoulder-less gown that had fashion insiders snapping their cameras. There was much artistry in its large ripples at the hem that resembled the delicate curved flesh of a rose petal.
SACAI: UNITY IN DISSONANCE
Sacai’s shows seem to be growing exponentially with each season.
This season, Naomi Campbell sat pride of place inside the impressive Grand Palais venue and posed for cameras.
There was — for once — a little time to waste, given that many guests of the Japanese house arrived early owing to fears of being caught in traffic jams around the late French President Jacques Chirac’s memorial ceremony.
Designer and house founder Chitose Abe delivered a typically fashion-forward aesthetic for spring with extra layering and large volumes in skirts.
The house summed it up well, saying that Abe’s was a “career-long quest to reimagine what’s possible with silhouette.”
The 43 looks were a study in finding harmony and unity in dissonance.
Abe is a master of mixing up intentionally contrasting styles, fabrics and shapes in the same look.
A dark slate blue trench coat, sheer chiffon chemise, feather skirt and vivid red space boots all somehow gelled together to produce a coherent silhouette.
The funkily divergent styles have made the brand among Japan’s most popular in the luxury sector.
Thomas Adamson can be followed at http://twitter.com/ThomasAdamson—K