Stella McCartney has been going through a transitional stage in her business (the designer sold a stake in her label to LVMH and became Bernard Arnault’s personal sustainability adviser in 2019). Accordingly, the autumn/winter 2021 season felt like a fresh start for the designer. After going back to her roots and ruminating on the transportive power of fashion, McCartney delivered one of her most escapist and uplifting edits to date.
“I miss going to a basement and listening to really loud music. And dancing, getting sweaty, getting messy and how that feels,” McCartney told members of the press via Zoom. “I closed my eyes and was transported to that place. This is what I saw.” Here, everything you need to know about Stella McCartney’s autumn/winter 2021 collection, a fabulous, nostalgic-yet-fresh ode to going out and really living.
D is for desire
The autumn/winter 2021 collection riffs on the letter D from Stella McCartney’s manifesto: an A-Z document that drills into the meaning of the terms – from A for accountable to Z for zero waste – helping fashion advance towards a more sustainable future. The concept of desire couldn’t have come at a more timely juncture. Harnessing our yearning to get dressed up and go out, McCartney delivered a collection of new-look grunge-glam hits with a sporty bent. From swirling prints and voluminous silhouettes to surprising colourways – think yellow sequined dresses teamed with red flares – these are looks to make your first night out out one to remember.
77 per cent of the collection is made from sustainable materials
Worried about the environmental impact of that fabulous shimmering blue sequined jumpsuit? Fret not, each paillette is PVC-free. Every other look in the 30-piece collection comes with its own explainer detailing which elements are sustainable, such as forest-friendly viscose, vegan suede, polyurethane faux leather or responsible and traceable wool sourced from a regenerative farm – the latter of which is a first for the brand. The accompanying traceability notes – which estimate that the brand’s early use of Econyl, a regenerative nylon made from fishing nets, has stopped over 10 tonnes of nylon going into landfill – is an example of what should become the industry standard for consumer transparency.
Flares are back in a big way
During the pandemic-imposed timeout the self-professed problem solver, who would normally be focusing on solution-based fashion, reminded herself of the escapist quality of clothing. Celebrating a “sense of eccentricity and extravagance”, she served up youthful pieces to make people feel alive. Central to this carefree proposition are flares in rich, bold colours that have a “fighting spirit”. As models walked through London’s Tate Modern – a venue chosen to promote “themes of freedom, art and celebration” – the mood was unabashedly optimistic. Job done.
Get into the groove boots are in
While Duck boots were McCartney’s answer to lug-soled stompers, Duck City heels stole the spotlight on the makeshift museum runway. The over-the-knee sock styles with handmade rounded toes and chunky sculptural block heels come in visually arresting aqua, orange and lilac. For club kids considering the environmental impact of their party heels, the glitter models have an in-sock that is made from 35 per cent bio-based content, while the upper of the matte iterations is also created from 47 per cent bio-based materials. Not perfect, but McCartney is always striving for better.
It wasn’t all about newness
Hobo and Frame bags were sculptural additions to models’ opulent looks (finally, capacious evening bags that don’t err into tote territory!), but McCartney made sure to include the Falabella, a house signature synonymous with the designer’s edgy, individual approach to accessories. While leather goods are the cash cow for most designer brands, McCartney’s vegan line doesn’t prioritise newness over ethics. Since launching the Falabella in 2010, the brand estimates it has saved the lives of over 300,000 cows. When 18 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions come from animal agriculture, this number is more than just about animal cruelty. The environmental impact of McCartney’s cruelty-free bags is 24 times lower than that of the average leather bag. Food for thought, indeed.