American painter Frank Stella once expressed that he could tell a story with shapes. Paris fashion week has lived up to that standard, ranging from Christian Dior’s triumphant postwar style to the latest apocalypse chic of Vetement’s oversized street outfits.
Stella McCartney, whose designs gravitate toward relaxed silhouettes instead of embroidery or ruffles, has somehow felt a connection with Stella that spans even surpassing their sharing of a name.
Held on the rooftop of the Pompidou Centre, Stella by Stella was a fashion collection as well as a commemoration of the painter.
According to McCartney, the 1988 collage artwork by Stella named Ahab was displaced “pure and direct from the canvas” onto a fluid stretch viscose dress. Other patterns were deconstructed, with components taken out “to extract something more palatable and wearable” that would be alluring instead of formidable on a blouse or dress.
Stella had consented to every item, “which was terrifying because he has great taste, and an incredible knowledge of art and design—and also, he’s really moody,” said McCartney behind-the-scenes after the show. “There were a few things he said no to, but I was amazed by what he let us do.”
Stella’s early pieces lean to monochrome and straight lines, and this show started at the start, first showing a fluffy coat in sustainable, cruel-free Fur Free Fur filled with early-Stella-ish bold monochromatic lines.
McCartney continued: “His more linear early work lends itself so well to tailoring, and I love how he spans minimalism and maximalism, which has such a parallel without brand, which has a very simple masculine side and then more explosive, feminine side.”
A trouser suit was designed with pinstripes positioned diagonally, and a knit dress was made from triangular panels.
The showpieces were a sight for sore eyes; however, the far from literal items were the most appealing to wear.
“All of the wine that you’ve been drinking in lockdown has been turned into a handbag,” said McCartney as a joke backstage of her most recent trial in sustainable fabrics.
Handbags were built from grape skin, which came from Italian wineries near the brand’s accessories headquarters.
The show ended with the song “Give Peace a Chance” by John Lennon. “I just wanted to let everyone know that everyone at Stella feels such tremendous sadness for everything that people of Ukraine are going through and that our hearts are with them,” concluded McCartney.