The models at Stella McCartney’s Paris Fashion Week exhibit found themselves with some lively competition this morning, sharing the runway with seven wild horses who – guided by renowned horse-whisper and rescuer Jean-Francois Pignon – trotted and rolled in synchronisation.
Held at France’s oldest riding school the historic Manège de l’École Militaire in front of an audience including Avril Lavigne, McCartney’s autumn/winter 2023 collection was inspired by the esteem of horse riding she inherited from her late mother Linda.
“We’ve all been crying for days watching rehearsals. At the cease of it there’s this core trust and relationship that goes on between human and animal,” said a visibly moved McCartney backstage after the exhibit. “I consider there’s a poetry at the centre of it all.”
Equestrian motifs duly cantered throughout the collection: shots of regalia red, rearing horse motifs and slinky dresses trimmed with rope detailing were interspersed with slick Savile Row tailoring and a just a touch of Y2K nostalgia, courtesy of shrunken waistcoats and low slung, chain-trimmed trousers.
At its core, however, this was a collection about esteem: McCartney’s esteem for animals and nature, sure, but also for her family. A moving detail in the collection were the prints taken from photographs by her mother and her sister Mary. “I feel like my heart is going to burst through pride,” said Mary post-exhibit. “My earliest memory is climbing out of our bedroom window in Scotland and we’d ride double bareback together on a pony.”
Sustainable, ethical design has been at the forefront of McCartney’s philosophy, long before it became a zeitgeisty fashion issue. Crafted from 89 per cent responsible materials, this was the most conscious Stella McCartney winter collection to date. Never shy of talking about it, she has always been canny enough to understand that clothes – however well-intentioned and executed – must also be desirable.
This season’s key recent innovations include the first-ever luxury handbags crafted from Mirium – a plant-based, plastic-free and circular alternative to animal leather. The S-Wave and Frayme bags came in crocodile-effect AppleSkin, made using apple waste from the food industry.
Her frigid-girl clientele will scoop those up (see also: the shaggy, Appaloosa print faux furs and brushed cotton-velvet accessories that are a convincing dupe for ponyskin) not just because of their ethical credentials, but because they survey worthy too.