Stella McCartney SS21 was a wearable manifesto
A proud statement of the brand’s mission and purpose, the collection demonstrates what a holistic approach to sustainability looks like at its best.
Courtesy Stella McCartney. Photography Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott
At some point over the past months, you’re probably taken a moment to stop and take stock, to figure out what on this godforsaken earth even matters to you when it seems to be falling apart. In these times that call for imminent action and change, like Stella McCartney, you may have taken to drawing up your own personal manifesto, a vindication of what you stand for and the part you pledge to play in building the world anew.
“I found myself, on a sleepless night, writing a manifesto,” the designer says, a response to her pondering of questions like, “Why do I do what I do?’ Why do women come to the Stella McCartney house? How can fashion shift and change?” over lockdown. A roadmap for the future that Stella hopes to see, that translated to an alphabetical statement of values and ideals, from A for accountable to Z for zero waste. She also flipped through her Rolodex of world-famous contemporary artists, inviting them to respond to the 26 terms -- “You've got Cindy Sherman, who did E for effortless; George Condo did G for grateful; Jeff Koons did K for kindness; Taryn Simon did R for recycle; and Olafur Eliasson did O for organic.” OK then! The creative energy, of course, didn’t stop short there, with the manifesto serving as the springboard for the collection itself.
In a season that’s seen so many muted palettes and fashion adapted for mooching around the house, Stella’s SS21 provided a welcome burst of unrepentant joy. Billowing trousers and maxiskirts in fluo pink and scarlet red were counterposed by slick yet generous tailored silhouettes in black and cream wool. This notably classical spirit, which also made itself felt in softened riffs on corsets and bustles, can be traced to the letter T in her manifesto, for ‘timeless’.
“I've always said that one of the responsibilities that we have as designers to be sustainable is to create timeless pieces,” the designer says. For Stella, though, timelessness isn’t a mere aesthetic proposal. “Designing in a timeless way is also about using materials that are timeless and investing more in them. It's way more sustainable if you buy into something deeper and you give a level of some permanence to it,” an example being the brand’s longstanding investment in Bolt Threads, a company that produces a leather alternative using mycelium structures.
This is, of course, just once of the ways that Stella McCartney is proving its commitment to the cause that it’s an original pioneer of in fashion, with a transparency that’s refreshing at a time when greenwashing’s all the rage. There's so much of it going around and there's so much confusion around what these words mean,” she says. “I mean, I barely even know what the word sustainable means anymore!” If there’s anyone we trust to redefine its meaning with integrity, though, it sure as hell is Stella.