Stella, that is, who with Chloe has Paris Fashion Week all buzz
Stella McCartney proved at Paris Fashion Week on Monday that eco-friendly fashion can turn a buck, with her label’s profits shooting up as she unveiled her new collection.
The British designer and daughter of the former Beatle Paul McCartney whose upscale brand prides itself on its environmental and cruelty-free credentials saw pre-tax profits rise by almost half to 9.5 million pounds (Bt422 million).
McCartney told reporters the brand was working towards a goal of zero emissions and had managed to “significantly reduce” its environmental impact despite rising sales.
The vegetarian designer, who does not use leather, fur, skins or feathers, sent out invitations to her Paris show – held in the gilded glory of the city’s Opera Garnier – on a roll of bio-plastic, compostable “Trashion Bags”.
The label, whose $1,200 (Bt40,000) duffel bags are lined with recycled plastic bottles, is also moving to using recycled cashmere and pesticide-free wool.
McCartney said her spring-summer collection was a “joyful exploration of British style” with magenta and bubblegum-pink taffeta debutante dresses matched with oversize white jersey T-shirts.
Jumpsuits were followed by African wax-print dresses and a line of pre-washed denim that brought back memories of 1980s school discos.
But there were plenty of McCartney’s reliably classic pieces to please her many fans featuring her exaggerated sleeves and puffed shoulders.
One nifty innovation was a crop-top back vent on a few of her summer suits and dress combinations, all the better to catch a cooling summer breeze.
There were frills too – one of the trends of the season – big ones on the diagonal of one-shoulder dresses and clever little unexpected ones trailing from the collar.
Earlier this year McCartney declared that her new luxury synthetic leathers were as good as the real thing, and in Paris she sent out a pair of high-waist, pecan-coloured Skin-Free-Skin trousers and a tight black top over a black organza dress appliqued with leopard patterns.
Absurdly early on Thursday morning, the fans were flocking to Chloe’s headquarters on the Right Bank, warned to be there by 8.45 for the 9am show in a nod to traffic snarls and heavy security. The show, they’d been told, would start promptly.
The faithful did as they were told, because this was to be no ordinary Chloe show – it was the debut of new designer Natacha Ramsay-Levi.
In a season when many houses are welcoming new creative directors, this one was particularly anticipated, since Ramsay-Levi worked at both Louis Vuitton and Balenciaga, a very nice pedigree.
Unfortunately, by 9am, the doors still hadn’t opened and then it began to rain – on their vintage Chloe frocks, their impractical shoes and their very expensive sneakers. People tried hard not to be grumpy, yet there was still a mild sense of aggravation as everyone filed in and found their seats.
The first couple of models came racing down the runway, which wound from one salon into another, and the rain was forgotten. They moved with confident energy in their flouncy dresses with bold shoulders and patterns that recalled a crazy psychedelic rendition of peacock feathers.
The dresses were short and sometimes paired with a leather jacket. There were wide culottes that were cut away at the sides, turning them into sort of a skirt but not really. Dresses that vaguely recalled prairie style were subtly embellished. And the clothes were paired with cowboy-gladiator boots.
Describing the collection requires a lot of hedging and much “sort of”, “some kind of” and “almost”. There were so many things that looked familiar and yet were different.
Consider something as simple as a cropped skinny jean. The pants were cut and cuffed just below the knee and worn with high boots. The result is a pair of jeans with the sleek, smooth lines that result from tucking them into boots, but without all the effort.
Because, yes, getting a pair |of jeans neatly tucked into a pair of boots does require a bit of work.
The clothes were understandable and accessible, but they also looked new. The ability to walk that fine line is no easy feat.
And when Ramsay-Levi walked out to take her bows, she did so to sustained applause. It was well deserved. She had just offered women interesting ideas, a strong point of view and plenty of things to wear.