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Stella McCartney embraces roots, talks animal rights

PARIS (AP) -- Stella McCartney presented her first Paris Fashion Week collection since taking full control of her eponymous design house this year by buying the 50 percent stake owned by luxury product giant Kering.

The British-American designer used her independence to go back to her artistic roots on the runway Monday and spoke to the Associated Press about fashion’s fledging steps to go fur-free and about animal rights in the industry.

Models wear creations for Stella McCartney’s Spring/Summer 2019 ready-to-wear fashion collection presented in Paris, Monday. (AP-Yonhap)
Models wear creations for Stella McCartney’s Spring/Summer 2019 ready-to-wear fashion collection presented in Paris, Monday. (AP-Yonhap)

Here are some Fashion Week highlights for Spring 2019:

McCartney returns to roots

Fluid silhouettes met sportswear, while loose knitwear was raw and deconstructed. Oversized “boyfriend blazers” were conceived in sustainable viscose and lightweight linen.

Stella McCartney did what she did best Monday, delivering a show that brimmed with joyful and laid-back styles. Guests included actress Isabelle Huppert and model Alexa Chung,

The spring palette -- washed-out neon colors and “dirty pastels” -- felt as fresh as the funky soundtrack for the show inside Paris’ lofty opera house. So did the wallpaper florals on a swimwear-jumpsuit hybrid.

“The bold and the feminine ... the quintessential ... the classically Stella,” is how the house described the ready-to-wear show.

But was reasserting her aesthetic identity a way to express her newfound financial independence?

McCartney said “no,” at least not intentionally.

“It’s not really connected with (the buyout), though it might be in a subliminal way, yeah,” she told the AP after the show. “It’s to do with reflecting.”

If the vigorous applause was anything to go by, it was certainly a hit.

Fashion’s fur-free future?

In September, London became the first fashion capital to go fur-free after the British Fashion Council said all the designers on the calendar would ditch fur in their shows.

Various labels have been accused of hypocrisy for using materials such as python skin.

The 47-year-old McCartney, a prominent vegan and animal rights activist, had much to say on the issue. She advised purists to praise the progress, though acknowledged the ban on fur was “just a start.”

“There is this human instinct to put people down when they’re doing something good. Anything is better than nothing. It’s a positive thing,” McCartney told the Associated Press.

The real test, she said, is whether the sans-fur stance will extend to winter collections.

McCartney said she has seen a marked shift in the willingness of industry insiders to “have a conversation” about the ethics and economy of giving up materials from animals.

“They didn’t when I started. I was ridiculed, really,” she said.

McCartney, who uses neither leather nor fur in her collections, said a bigger fight will be getting labels to do without leather, which comes from billions of animals being “killed for fashion.”

Though Paris is far from going in London’s direction, McCartney sees hope elsewhere.

“I think that Los Angeles is a little more exciting when they say they won’t buy fur,” she said. “Essentially, you have to believe in it and feel it. Otherwise, it’s just a fashion trend.”

McCartney’s late American mother, Linda McCartney, who died in 1998, was a prominent animal rights activist.

Yves Saint Laurent Museum

To coincide with Fashion Week, the year-old Yves Saint Laurent Museum is inaugurating a temporary exhibit devoted to the late French designer’s love for Asia.

The show, “Yves Saint Laurent: Dreams of the Orient,” gathers from the museum’s archives some 50 haute couture looks that were inspired by India, China and Japan. The pieces are displayed with Asian art objects from the collection of the Guimet Museum of Asian Art, also located in Paris.

The world’s largest continent featured prominently in the fashion designs, drawings and perfumes of Saint Laurent, who died in 2008.

In one of his first eponymous collections, the couturier explored Imperial India, showing a particular fascination for its coats, saris and draping. Imperial China was the creative starting point for fall 1977, the same year the Asian-inspired perfume Opium by YSL debuted.

The perfume would become a huge seller, but initially caused a scandal in the United States, according to the exhibit. Its New York launch party on a boat named the Peking offended Chinese-Americans, and a group called American Coalition Against “Opium” and Drugs petitioned for a name change and an apology.

The museum is located in the former couture house where Saint Laurent worked from 1974 to 2002.

The late designer’s former partner, Pierre Berge, initiated the museum and died days before it opened.


Giambattista Valli

It was a low-key affair for Italian designer Giambattista Valli, whose collection was a veritable checklist of hot spring trends, but seemed to lack a little soul.

Black and white -- which has emerged at Fashion Week as the key color scheme for the 2019 season -- appeared in droves.

In the white corner: cleanly cut tailored jackets, a white column shirtdress and minidresses with girly-looking flounces.

Black saw similar ideas, including a nice silk gown with exaggerated proportions in the arms and a fluttery 1970s vibe.

Florals and decorative motifs -- somewhat the signature for the Italian designer -- were also a key feature.

They didn’t always fare well.

There was something that didn’t quite work in the balancing of one of the collection’s key silhouettes.

A floral silk minidress that fanned out beautifully in the wide skirt sported a voluminous, multilayered train.

From the front it looked sublime, but from the side and back it was not the most flattering in its mass of three-dimensional ripples.