Stella McCartney paid homage to British tradition with men’s-inspired tailoring before moving onto a softer section of silk dresses.
“The only thing I hate about Stella’s show,” groaned Twiggy from within the scrum of celebrity photographers, “is why don’t they have it at 3pm instead of 10am?”
That call-time chez McCartney may be early, but this collection draws stars like lint to wool: the headline acts today were Sir Paul (as ever) and Bono, a duo that lent a Live Aid frisson to the gold-leafed extravagance of Garnier’s Opera House. The sight of Jessica Alba, Natalia Vodianova and Nicole Richie (who talked through the show) made those photographers jostle and squirm like a frenzied ball of sardines.
Finally, the clothes. And had we not only just seen Stella’s husband – resplendently straight-backed in Prince of Wales check Savile Row and G.K. Chesterton’s beard – they could have suggested trouble at the McCartney marital mill. It was if Stella had emptied his wardrobe, slashed it to pieces, and then put it together again – the way she wanted to wear it.
Heavy chalkstripe and pinstripe wools were fashioned into double breasted dresses, nehru collar tops, peplummed blouses worn with baggy trousers and strapless calf-lengthers, often teamed with black baseball caps.
Of these sober materials playfully used, McCartney said afterwards “it’s really playing homage to British tradition but inserting movement – flicks and kicks – and bringing a sensual woman into the pieces.”
This Charlie Chaplin opening movement segued to a softer section of cream silk dresses with irregular panels of print inspired by ripped wallpaper. Soft tartan bomber jackets and a grey John Smedley-ish knit dress that bottomed with a wonky window of black lace re-established McCartney’s masculine versus feminine back-and-forthing. Supersized mannish coats – some with only one ornamental lapel – in that needle punch tartan, imperial purple and McCartney’s favourite blue followed.
The purple, and black too, was deployed beautifully in some silk dresses with delicately placed sheer windows and wide, elastication-puckered strips that circumvented their wearers at the knee or below the shoulders.
For her last look McCartney returned to her other half’s wardrobe and played merry havoc with a Kanye West-style summer suit: the white top half of this two piece outfit looked like a man’s jacket turned inside-out and then cut into a backless blouse. Afterwards, McCartney said: “I think that women want to be feminine and have all the things they traditionally have had. But we are allowed to have a strength too – and that doesn’t mean you have to be feisty, but it does take a confidence.”