You have to hand it to Stella McCartney, she gives good front row. In a season where A-listers have elsewhere been less present than might be expected, they were out in their droves for the designer’s spring/summer 2013 show at the Paris Opera yesterday.
Father Sir Paul, husband and children - dancing throughout – were there and so too were Victoria Pendleton and Louis Smith – Ms McCartney dressed Team GB for the Olympics of course and any relationship is clearly ongoing. Old friend, Kate Moss, took her place next to M.IA. Add to the mix actresses Diane Keaton and Salma Hayek and model Natalia Vodianova… Suffice it to say, the paparazzi had a field day.
And what of the clothes? McCartney is on a roll and that looks set to continue. The simple, sporty designs she chose to focus on this time around would suit all of the aforementioned women down to the ground and whatever the difference in their age or body shape.
Gauzy oversized white sweatshirts and trousers looked fresh and easy though their overblown proportions were interesting enough to please a more forward-thinking fashion follower also. Narrow pleated dresses with racer backs skimmed the body rather than clinging to it: they looked pretty and modern finished with perfect circles of black and sunny orange. More forgiving still were super-wide broderie anglaise shirtwaisters: a cutely democratic, one size fits all touch.
As always there was the play between the masculine and feminine that McCartney is known for. Signature tailoring came in a predominantly neutral colour palette: jackets had a broad (very broad) rounded shoulder, pants were slouchy and low slung.
Money-spinning accessories cemented the luxe sportswear mood: simple but effective rectangular utility bags came with long, wide straps; scuba or organic cotton sandals – McCartney remains committed to not using leather – were suitably retro-futuristic with Lucite, platform wedge heels
It is not surprising given the accessible aesthetic that McCartney continues to uphold that despite a challenging economic climate, sales at the label, which is jointly owned by the designer and French luxury goods conglomerate, PPR (Pinault Printemps La Redoute), are on the rise and the company continues to expand. In the year ending December 31, 2011, Stella McCartney Ltd boasted a 19 per cent advance to £21 million. Profits climbed 0.5 per cent to £2.9 million.
McCartney’s latest collection reflected such an optimistic outlook entirely: it looked light, bright, breezy and lovely to wear.
There was nothing much bright and breezy about Hedi Slimane’s debut collection for the house of Yves Saint Laurent, the jewel in the PPR crown. Instead, one can only wonder what some of the world’s most celebrated designers – Alber Elbaz, Vivienne Westwood and Andreas Kronthaler, Azzedine Alaia and Marc Jacobs were all in attendance as was Ms Moss again - must have made of this somewhat tortured and surprisingly literal take on Anita Pallenberg and Marianne Faithfull circa Donald Cammell and Nicolas Roeg’s Performance.
True, when Slimane was a menswear designer at Yves Saint Laurent and then Dior Homme at the turn of the millennium his ultra-skinny tailoring had a cult following amongst women too but the endless parade of chiffon kaftans, pussy bow blouses, sequined jackets and wide-brimmed hats shown alongside them were less inspiring.