McCartney glams up classics while Hermès plays it straight

Stella’s collection has twists on tweed while Hermès goes with its equestrian heritage


The crowds that gathered on the steps of the Paris Opera yesterday morning for Stella McCartney’s winter show included star guests: her father Paul, Woody Harrelson, Cara Delavinge and Kanye West, the latter an ubiquitous presence in Paris front rows.

Nobody came away disappointed judging from the applause, as the collection turned out to be one of the designer’s most assured and womanly; brimming with cool and classy choices for a modern winter wardrobe.

The tailor that she is means that she is playful with shaping and clear in her focus. That sure hand was evident from the first line up of sculpted black and grey overcoats, sharp apron-fronted trouser suits and easy going grey wool separates.

“Celebrating freedom. Exploring classics. Teasing sensuality,” were the notes on the collection which demonstrated how sophisticated even her most casual combinations are. Her use of tweed, for example, was imaginative: skirt suits were flirty and flared while pinafore dresses, patched with silver brocade, gave the traditional fabric a new glamour.

Knitwear and crochet got a McCartney shot in the arm too: cabled off-the-shoulder floor-length knits had a languid, evening-wear look as did the long open-work crochet numbers in daisy motifs.

Standout items were the contoured black-and-white décolleté evening wear ensembles illuminated with moulded pearl necklaces. And true to her ethical spirit, the chunkiest items were shaggy “Fur Free Fur” teddy bear coats – sustainable and starry, if a little overwhelming.

At Hermès, held in the riding school of the Republican Guard, all eyes were on new in-house designer Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski cracking the whip as creative director following in the wake of luminaries such as Jean Paul Gaultier and Martin Margiela.

The young French designer, who comes with an impressive curriculum vitae, had a low-key debut that opened with conventional equestrian gear – riding coats, horse-blanket capes and dungarees in predictably super-luxurious lambskin and gabardine.

Some items, conventional interpretations of the company’s familiar codes like a snaffle-print scarf dress and quilted jackets, offered nothing new, but those that hit the mark included a long frock coat in dull red suede and an ivory silk and knit dress. Overall it lacked an exciting, thoroughbred look, but she may need time to master the reins.