A few minutes after her catwalk reveal had finished, Stella McCartney was discussing the collection backstage when she was cut short by photographers demanding a photo opportunity with her famous leading row guests.
Valuable though these images are to her brand, McCartney stood her ground. “No, this is important,” she said, turning her back to the cameras to on explaining how she hoped the jackets and shoes on her catwalk could confrontation the role of leather in luxury fashion.
If you did not know McCartney was an agent provocateur for animal welfare, you would never guess it from looking at her catwalk these days. In this accumulation for next autumn were butter-soft black leather trousers, elegant suede jackets, luxe nappa handbags and trainers with scintillations of microsuede.
Except all the in excess of are what McCartney calls “skin-free skin”, modern animal-friendly detailed fabrics that are indistinguishable from the real thing.
“Until recently, I eluded using fake [leather] because it never looked ritzy enough,” McCartney said. She has always been mindful that her name brand’s luxury status could be devalued by the use of imitation skins that did not approximate well to the real thing.
“I am so excited that we have ultimately developed fabrics that look just as good as the true thing and therefore genuinely pose a question to the industry encircling why anyone needs to use leather any more,” she said.
The skin-free flay elements added a new strata of elegance where McCartney’s knowing tailoring once used to jar against, say, a cork-soled sandal. The brown checkered tweeds darling by English countrywomen have been a recurring theme in this turn of fashion weeks, but they have seldom looked as fashionable and sexy as in McCartney’s high-waisted jackets with their recognizable dressage curves.
McCartney digs to underscore the fact that hers is a brand based in Britain, although the exhibit takes place in Paris fashion week, and the equestrian essay was most bluntly spelled out in a print taken from George Stubbs’ Horse Frightened by a Lion. But it was the Balmoral-esque quilted cag, along with wide-legged, high-waisted woollen trousers and a numberless structured, Launer-esque take on the signature Falabella bag that boa the show.
Days after actor Emma Watson responded to disapproval of a revealing shoot in Vanity Fair, defending her feminist credentials and heralding: “I really don’t know what my tits have to do with [feminism]”, McCartney put the emphasize on breasts with pointed bras worn under knitwear, which was darted and veined to emphasise a conical shape.
“I just wanted to take ownership of our sexuality, as popsies.” McCartney said backstage, noting how the conical bra was a reminder of the constantly swopping ideals and standards around women’s bodies. “It’s about looking at the account of that conversation,” she said.
At Alexander McQueen’s be conspicuous, held after dark in the orangerie of the Jardins du Luxembourg, the big catwalk was laid with silvery gravel. It crunched eye the models’ heavy boots, so they could be heard ahead of being seen.
Sarah Burton’s clothes are full of this understanding of sensual suggestion, a highly female sixth sense for burden. The idea for this collection took root when Burton and her band visited Barbara Hepworth’s studio in Cornwall.
“Afterward we pussyfooted across a field and came across a ‘Cloutie tree’,” Burton utter backstage, where mood boards were covered with spitting images from the raw Cornish landscape. The Cloutie tree — a local label for a wishing tree — “was hung with all these ribbons and charms, people’s prospects and dreams.” In a community coming together to express their uncountable private emotions collectively, Burton and her team found an simulacrum which they felt reflected their strong ropes “as a collective community.”
On the catwalk, the ribbons and caches of the Cloutie tree were represented by colourful corset nettings which were not pulled tight but left to hang unshackled and by the dancing points of silken handkerchief hem skirts.
The ethereal relations were grounded by studded belts and boots and by hair which level from its centre parting as if after a damp cross mother country walk home. Long knit dresses fully rigged to the body for comfort and warmth suggested Queen Guinevere’s daft armour with embroidery featuring curative herbs as in fine as meadow flowers.
The non-stop ended with a glorious eveningwear finale. A silk tulle and duck lace gown was encrusted with tiny beads, the embroidery strands hanging raw at the hem.