Stella McCartney F/W 2016
Stella McCartney F/W 2016

Stella McCartney is an ardent animal activist. If you’re just now picking up on that fact, you’ve not been paying attention for quite a while. A well-known celebrity in the vegan community and activist for animal rights, McCartney’s clothes have, for some time, been the go-to label for those who wanted to make sure their wardrobe was as cruelty-free as their diet. Most seasons Stella doesn’t play too hard to her activism, but this season she made a point of emphasizing that there were no feathers in her puffy outerwear and that what might look like leather on a bomber-style jacket wasn’t. We’ve seen plenty of both styles this season and she definitely gives in to the trend, but is careful to note that her clothes are still different, that one can look stylish and still be animal-friendly.

Yet, it was not necessarily the outwear that dominated this show as has happened so often this season. The satin and lace burnt umber dress that was the third look in might well be one of the most attractive pieces we’ve seen all week. Its almost-off-the-shoulder lace creates a butterfly design as it crosses the body, yielding to pleats that infer the fading rays of sunlight in the evening. Still or walking, the dress is nothing short of stunning. With it coming so early in the collection, almost everything else seemed dull by comparison. There is another similarly styled piece a little later, but in that version, the lace is over fabric, not in place of it, which detracts from the allure of the piece.

Another strong item is a denim dress with double corset lacing at the waist. The lacing is more for decoration, I’m not sure actually cinching the laces too tightly would be all that attractive. The front-buttoned, below the knee look has a homespun feel to it, but at the same time manages to still look polished and reasonably sophisticated. I’m sure we’ll see knock-offs of this dress in discount stores, but don’t expect the tailoring there to be as on point as it is with the real thing.

Of course, there are plenty of knits and long sweater dresses, which is pretty standard for this collection. They’re all roomy and comfortable and, for the most part, well done so that one won’t look disheveled when leaving the house. There is one silhouette I found rather curious, a full-length jersey knit dress with a seemingly pointless v-shape ruffle at the neck and what appears to be a waist cinching tie, but at the hips, not the waist, with a final ruffle at the ankle-length hem. I fear the knock-offs from this look because they’re going to be horrid. I have difficulty imagining for what purpose one might wear such a thing out of the house, but I’m sure someone will.

That is not to say all the full looks are frumpy, nor that jersey knits are unattractive. There are plenty of examples throughout the collection where McCartney uses knits and fullness to create beautiful pieces, one very bright red dress making a perfect example. Not everything works on every person, or every model, however. One black dress with decorative lace panels at the hips could prove embarrassing for someone with a short torso (hint: don’t forget to wear the pretty underwear with that one). Jackets that are puffy up top and then tailored below the waist are probably not the best choice for someone with broad shoulders, but would look wonderful on one with a more petite frame.

For all the clamoring about the puffy pieces and the velvet that has been trending all season, it is still the lace and satin dresses that are the strength of this collection. She ends the show with several beautiful pieces, but still, none of them quite compare to that third look at the beginning. The careful combination of pleats and lace works incredibly well and is worth some space in your wardrobe this fall.

And absolutely no animals were harmed in the production of the clothes nor this review. Coffee beans were decimated, but all living creatures enjoy this collection.

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