PARIS, France — It truly is a year to stand up and be counted, so it’s no surprise fashion has acquired a taste for The Message this season. Like Stella McCartney on Monday morning. “Fur Free” and “Leather Free” are longtime commitments of hers. There was a more generic tone to “Thanks Girls” and “All is Love”, but you could hardly pillory Stella for that. There’s scarcely anyone else in the industry with her activist track record.
And she actually made those trite messages come alive with a finale which saw her models joyously choreographed in a conga-line celebration of girl power. Not an Old Spice in sight…this felt real! “Sometimes you’ve got to spell it out,” McCartney said post-show. “And we have a lot to say.”
That “lot to say” hasn’t always translated into the clothes, and it was kind of like that today. There are always bits of a Stella collection that have a spunky new visual interest. Monday’s paper-bag-waist detailing, with the corseted tops? Kicky! Everything to do with Ultrasuede, the wonder fabric that looks like skin and machine-washes like cotton? Marvellous! The banker’s stripe shirt dresses? Well, who hasn’t done that to their partner’s professional drag?
Then off we went into the claggy world of putting words on clothes.
One way has always been surf. McCartney is savvy enough to know that scuba can swallow a multitude of linguistic transgressions. Pair that with popper sandals and you’ve won yourself an edge. But all those graphic typefaces piled up on top of each other brought to mind the acid tongue of New York humorist Fran Lebowitz: “If people don't want to hear from you, what makes you think they want to hear from your sweater?” Fact is, Stella will use any platform.