The key to Stella McCartney's show was the shoes. In their rubber-soled flatform oxfords, the models glided around the Palais Garnier utterly unencumbered. To look at those shoes you wouldn't think they'd be sexy, and yet wearing McCartney's super-short hem lengths or stirrup leggings (those were a surprise!) and sporting those clunky oxfords, the models looked quite fetching. Sexy is a McCartney signature that had lately gone missing. It was good to see it back.

"We wanted to give our customer the ease and energy and movement we feel she wants from us," McCartney said backstage. First came that footwear, followed by the silhouettes of the clothes, which were borrowed from the worlds of sport and loungewear. It's official: Chunky knit pajama-style pants are one of fall's key trends.

The real surprise here was McCartney's emphasis on handwork. Zipper details and mountaineering rope formed squiggly embroidery on boxy jackets and oversize sweaters, reinforcing her points about energy and movement. Other surface treatments, like the shibori technique she used to create tie-dyed color-blocking on a breezy silk dress, or the woven jacquards of softly tailored separates, had an earthy, even tribal feel that jibed with what's been happening on other runways this season. The tiny cocktail dresses McCartney closed with were exuberantly draped in colorful silk cord fringe. They'd be an absolute kick to wear, especially with those easy-on-the-feet shoes.