Asked how she would like the people of the future to remember the words “Stella McCartney,” the brand’s namesake designer says, “Naturally sexy, naturally confident, and modern.” Modern is a juggernaut term, referring at once to the now (which inevitably becomes the then) and to a tangle of historical labels. McCartney’s modern is something close to Modernist, as in Ezra Pound’s “Make it new,” or, in fashion-speak, directional. Her designs not only reflect where we find ourselves today, but also where we can and should go tomorrow.
Season after season, since her Central Saint Martins graduate debut in 1995, the 41-year-old costumier has created clothes in which women can literally move. Ease may be her most lasting signature. That, and a delicate gender bend marked by, as she puts it, “playing masculinity for women, specifically the point at which the masculine and feminine meet.” For her Spring/Summer 2013 collection, McCartney mixed the utility of athletica and workwear, from tracksuits to coveralls, with the delicacy of feminine traditions (clavicle-revealing cuts and blown-up broderie anglaise). Even the accessories are relaxed: reasonable wedges in convalescent home beige, olive green, and Lucite; utility belts; camera bags; and clutches sized to fit even the most cumbersome of quotidian tackle.
McCartney says she was inspired by “the optimism and energy of summer,” which shines through in the sun orange and grass green ellipticals made from pleated organza that flutter against the surface of her shift dresses. Such invigorating lightness is grounded by masculine codes, like drop-waist belting, high-buttoned collaring, and front-facing patch pockets.
Her most progressive vision, however, continues to be her commitment to sustainable and vegan production. Instead of leather and fur, she sources fair-trade knits and eco-friendly fibers. “Sustainability,” she says, “is part of the brand’s DNA.” For her new collection, she sought out organic denim, cotton, and linen. Her wedge heels are, naturally, biodegradable. In an industry overflowing with waste, McCartney insists on developing clean, green commodities for a better future.
Photography by Marton Perlaki. Styling by Stephanie Singer.