PARIS, France — On Monday afternoon, Stella McCartney and Russian entrepreneur Miroslava Duma co-hosted an event with Google on behalf of Duma’s initiative Fashion Tech Lab, during which it was made quite clear that technology has succeeded in duplicating materials whose production or extraction has conventionally involved abuse of the planet’s flora and fauna.
In that light, it might be best to conceptualise Stella McCartney’s shows as billboards, advertising the incredible properties of synthetic materials that do away with the need to exploit animals to satisfy human vanity. One thing that jumped out instantly in her show on Monday morning was the footwear, chic sandals in “alter croc”. A couple of looks later, there was Alter Nappa, a supple, black second skin twisted into a top, appliqued as a leopard spot on an organza skirt. And then there was Skin-Free-Skin, in trousers that offered a remarkably lush simulacrum of leather.
For the rest, McCartney’s show was a parade of what her shownotes labelled “effortlessly confident utilitarian styles”: oversized white tees in Japanese jersey, big comfy jumpsuits, slouchy poplin dresses, summery African prints ( A microphone? An electric fan? Someone has a sense of humour). Drawstrings and ribbing tugged clothes bodywards, because bodies are something that Olympic Games designer McCartney knows well. But an overdyed tee with a floor-sweeping taffeta skirt looked hellacious. Maybe not so in a first-thing-I-grabbed-when-i-woke-up way, but astonishingly bereft of design sensibility. Actually, that didn’t even matter. There aren’t many designers who truly grasp the principle of dressing for the “real” world. Check out McCartney’s clothes in a store near you and they exert the chimerical hanger appeal that makes a shopper shop for herself. You scarcely have to like it on the catwalk when it’s really intended for the sidewalk.