Stella McCartney’s runway show, held in the public square in front of the Center Pompidou in Paris, was her most enduring yet, but she hoped no one would notice.
“If I do my job right, you shouldn’t see the durability,” the designer said backstage after the show. “It just has to look like the most luxurious, glamorous show. I don’t want it to look like sustainable fashion – I want it to look sexy, effortless and easy.”
There is one exception to McCartney’s rule. Sitting in the front row next to her father, Paul, was Bernard Arnault, the chairman and chief executive of the luxury goods company LVMH and the third richest man in the world. McCartney hopes Arnault will notice that the elegant baguette-shaped S-Wave “leather” shoulder bags are made from a grape-based alternative to leather, that this season’s version of the popular Frayme bag with its oversized chain strap is made from mycelium. , the root-like structure of fungi, and that the crystals on model Bella Hadid’s mesh catsuit were solvent-free.
“I have this incredible seat at the table, and I want to use that position to change fashion from within,” said McCartney, who took on a role as Arnault’s special advisor on sustainability when LVMH took a minority stake in her company three years ago. “Mr. Arnault is not stupid. While he’s watching my show and looking at all those non-leather shoes, non-leather bags, non-leather jackets, he can compare what he’s looking at with the other brands. He can see that there is no sacrifice visually, or in make, or in quality, in what I do.”
McCartney tries to convince Arnault that the grape skins of the LVMH vineyards — which span 13 estates on four continents — could become the raw material for more leather-alternative fashions. “I want to infiltrate from within. I hope that is possible.”
Regenerative cotton also made its catwalk debut, the result of a three-year pilot project in Turkey that applies regenerative farming methodology to a cotton production process that sequesters carbon in the soil. Called “from dirt to shirt” in an effort to reflect the success of the “farm to table” movement in food, regenerative farming is seen as an important frontier in the pursuit of sustainability in fashion, with further projects supported by Levi Strauss and Ralph Lauren.
The outdoor setting for the show, which drew large crowds, was a first for McCartney. “I wanted everyone who wanted to come and watch the show. My clothes are very wearable and approachable – the exclusivity of the fashion industry is not my vibe. And outdoors is my thing – I’m in nature, in the elements, as much as I can be.”
The primary colors of the Paris monument were reflected in an extra bright color palette. Putting on an unusually strong show during this month of fashion shows, Yellow was dubbed “limoncello” in flowing asymmetrical dresses and trouser suits worn over crystal bras.