Stella McCartney has had a lot on her plate this past year. New baby, a smash-hit gig for H&M, and a line of attention-grabbing activewear for Adidas. Well done for all thatbut has she had enough in reserve to concentrate on her own brand? Her collection didn't really look like it. What she showedbig cocoon cardigans with sloppy collars, skimpy printed jersey dresses, mixed with A-line smocks and swing coatslacked the stylistic grip and polish expected from a player in the premier league of Parisian fashion. Granted, something in their sixties/eighties spirit glanced in the right direction, but the focus seemed fuzzy.
The presentation took place in the pompous surroundings of the gilded salon of the Grand Hotel, a habitat perennially associated with the rarefied métier of haute couture showings. Maybe that was a policy choice intended to separate her top line from other things she's doing, but you can't help thinking there are bolder strategies, beyond selection of venue, that could be used to leverage the equity behind brand McCartney. In a season when menswear tailoring is so much on the agenda, she could, for instance, have upped the luxe content by celebrating her signature Savile Row pantsuits, whose cut can't be achieved at mass level. Then again, perhaps a better way to go about it would be to turn her collection into a microcosm of the high-low fashion reality that McCartney embodies. What would excite both critics and her fan base alike would be to see her jeans, sporty pieces, and accessible young-girl ideas cut together with edited standouts from her posher top line. The makings are all there in her personality. Perhaps she just needs the time and space to figure it out.