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Stella McCartney dissects work of artist Frank Stella for Paris collection | Paris fashion week

The American artist Frank Stella once said that he “could tell a story with shapes”. Paris fashion week has done this too, all the way from Christian Dior’s triumphant postwar new look to the more recent apocalypse-luxe of Vetements’ oversized streetwear.

Stella McCartney, whose clothes tend to be about cool silhouettes rather than embroidery or ruffles, has long felt an affinity with Stella that goes beyond their sharing a name. Stella by Stella, presented on the rooftop of the Pompidou Centre, was both a fashion collection and a celebration of the artist.

Stella’s 1988 collage piece Ahab was transposed “pure and direct from the canvas” on to fluid stretch viscose dresses, McCartney said. Other prints were dissected, with elements taken out “to extract something more palatable and wearable” that would be appealing rather than overwhelming on a blouse or dress.

A model presents a creation by designer Stella McCartney at Paris fashion week
Straight lines featured in many pieces. Photograph: Johanna Geron/Reuters

Stella had approval on every piece, “which was terrifying, because he has great taste, and an incredible knowledge of art and design – and also, he’s really moody”, laughed McCartney backstage after the show. “There were a few things he said no to, but I was amazed by what he let us do.”

Stella’s early work tends towards monochrome and straight lines, and this show began at the beginning, opening with a fluffy coat in sustainable, cruelty-free Fur Free Fur covered with early-Stella-esque bold monochrome zigzags.

A model wears a pale pink ruched dress by Stella McCartney as part of her fall/winter 2022/2023 women’s ready-to-wear collection show at Paris fashion week.
A model wears a pale pink ruched dress by Stella McCartney as part of her fall/winter 2022/2023 women’s ready-to-wear collection show at Paris fashion week. Photograph: Johanna Geron/Reuters

“His more linear early work lends itself so well to tailoring, and I love how he spans minimalism and maximalism, which has such a parallel with our brand, which has a very simple masculine side and then a more explosive, feminine side,” McCartney said. Pinstripes swayed diagonally across a trousersuit, and a knit dress was constructed from triangular panels.

The Frank Stella homage pieces were beautiful to look at, but it was the less literal ones that were the most desirable to wear. Ruched and draped dresses in pale pink velvet and belted double satin ones with romantic sweetheart hemline were as perfectly cut as the signature oversized blazers.

A model wears a monochrome coat by Stella McCartney as part of her fall/winter 2022/2023 women’s ready-to-wear collection show at Paris fashion week.
Frank Stella’s early work tends towards monochrome and straight lines. Photograph: REX/Shutterstock

“All of the wine that you’ve been drinking in lockdown has been turned into a handbag,” joked McCartney backstage of her latest experiment in sustainable fabrics. Handbags were made using a new “unleather” which uses waste grape skins, sourced from Italian wineries close to where the brand’s accessories are made. Another bag in Mylo micelium “unleather” continued the mushroom theme of last season’s collection.

The soundtrack ended with John Lennon’s Give Peace A Chance. “I just wanted to let everyone know that everyone at Stella feels such tremendous sadness for everything that the people of Ukraine are going through and that our hearts are with them,” McCartney said.

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