Stella McCartney S/S16
Stella McCartney S/S16

I’m glad someone knew enough about my schedule to wake me up this morning. It’s Monday, of course, so my alarm deciding it didn’t want to go off on time is one of those challenges I should have perhaps seen coming. I made it, though, falling clumsily into my seat just scant minutes before the show began. This is how the day started. Fortunately, Ms. McCartney has really been on the top of her game the past few seasons, so it was well worth the scramble.

The opulent Opera Garnier, a 19th-century masterpiece of handworked architecture with massive arched ceilings and gold leaf from top to bottom, was the setting for this morning’s show, and that might have inferred a more glam take on the season. Stella can do glam, we’ve seen it before, but this season she stays more casual and asymmetrical, playing heavily with diagonal lines layered across vertical lines, causing one’s eyes to at times wonder what was in that coffee they gulped down on the way over.

Diagonal lines can work well and have been a subtle method used frequently the past few seasons, but Stella rather threw the lines in everyone’s face this morning when the first piece down the runway was a red and white plaid with a diagonal panel laid over another vertical panel running a different direction. None of the lines seemed to go where the eyes expected them to go, and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, when one does that to plaid it makes even the most simple pattern appear busy. The eyes were in for a workout as she kept up this plaid look, occasionally interrupting it with crossing stripes, for the first several looks of the collection. She keeps the silhouettes long and casually tailored, buttoned up with ribbed polo-style collars.

Then, as though the visuals were beginning to get a bit boring, Ms. McCartney throws pleated Airtex over the top of the diagonal plaids. Go ahead, rub your eyes. Airtex creates a bit of an optical illusion anyway, and over the diagonal layers of plaid just emphasized the visual impact. She then proceeds to layer the Airtex in swooping curves over one another, giving the dresses a very full and airy feeling.

So it goes throughout the first half of this collection. Stella continues using the diagonal patterns even when she switches to solid colors, relying on different colored stitching to emphasize the lines. Then, using a set of somewhat (loosely) business styled suits as a buffer, she transitions to a printed pattern of curves and curly cues that then slides gently into the final set of mesh and sheer dresses playing off those same curves. The movement between sheer and opaque is very careful and well-positioned so that, at least on the models, nothing was too terribly immodest. The silhouettes here are a little more full than we tend to see with mesh dresses, though, which means the opaque panels are likely to shift a bit as one moves. The visual effect is quite lovely, and in production I won’t be surprised if the dresses are not given a nude colored lining so as to avoid any accidents.

All in all, this spring/summer collection is quite a visual feast. There is a lot here that is different and off-trend. These pieces are going to stand out in anyone’s wardrobe, and anyone wearing them will undoubtedly stand out as well. Vogue’s Anna Wintour has been wearing a number of the designer’s dresses this month, and even the first lady of the United States enjoys wearing McCartney dresses, so you’re in good company. Just make sure you’re good and awake before taking on these diagonals, though. I’m still rubbing my eyes.

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