Stella McCartney Dresses Up as Mushrooms in Paris
The environmental consciousness of fashion, which had been pushing its head out hesitantly during the previous three weeks, finally made its full-throated debut on the penultimate day of the ready-to-wear season. Hello, sustainability. I was wondering when you were going to show up.
After all, the industry’s role in climate change was one of the pandemic’s major blunders. One of the more significant trends in the last 18 months has been the emergence of reselling. But it was easy to forget, it seemed, in the midst of the commotion of being back; perhaps it was safer to avoid, lest charges of greenwashing pour down.
Stella McCartney then made mushrooms her muse, putting 50 colours of nature on the runway.
To launch the concert, the voice of American mycologist Paul Stamets roared out, reciting a paean to the powers of fungi under the Brutalist concrete dome of the Espace Niemeyer, the headquarters of the French Communist Party, which also bears a striking resemblance to a Martian bio-dome.
“In fashion,” he said earnestly on the soundtrack, “mushrooms are the future.” Mushrooms create colonies, survive and thrive in harsh settings, and provide food. Furthermore, their root systems are increasingly being used as a raw material for substitute leather!
They’re also as good a source of aesthetic inspiration as Marlene Dietrich was in her prime. Certainly, they aided Ms. McCartney in creating one of the season’s most intriguing collections.
It began with the bodysuit, which featured two curved paramecium shapes cut out at the neck and side and was coupled with billowing parachute-silk anoraks or airy cargo pants ripped open at the side. It grew from a hand-drawn toile de Jouy showing mushrooms rather than flowers or animals, in dripping fringe dresses and crop tops. The trend soon spread to include knits with biophilic tracings and tea frocks with the torso shirred to imitate the undersides of portobello mushrooms, or with a front ruffle.
A trio of sequined outfits were available in various shades of green, ranging from brilliant new leaf to olive. There was also a lovely tiny black leather crescent bag made from Bolt Threads’ mycelium leather (named Mylo), albeit the technology is still so new that just 100 will be made. It’s easy to scoff at that – 100 bags aren’t going to change the world’s attitude toward accessory waste — but it’s a start. According to the fashion business, 63% of the materials in the collection are eco-friendly.
The end result was a delicious fricassee. Bring out the shiitakes, truffles, and porcinis.
Giambattista Valli’s macaron box celebration of prettiness in tulle, roses, rhinestones, and lace may have benefited from some umami. Backstage before the event, in front of a mood board strewn with images of gardens and tables piled with beautiful china settings he’d seen on Instagram, he discussed beauty as a balm and an escape. That’s OK. However, the picture of Versailles before the revolution, wallowing in sweetness, was difficult to shake.
Similarly to Chanel, Virginie Viard’s decision to pay homage to the 1980s by recreating the raised runways of that era, with models twirling for the photographers jammed up together and flashbulbing away at their feet, struck an off note — despite the fact that the clothes themselves had been noticeably and effectively lightened up.
Bathing suits and bouclé shorts suits in juicy colours had a sweetly cheesy Côte d’Azur vibe to them, as did shortened, dazzling black and white coat dresses; slouchy flower power denim; and a finale of butterfly silks that flapped around with the breeze.
At Maison Margiela, at least, designer John Galliano was revisiting a slew of historical character/costume mash-ups through both storytelling and his more appealing ability to rework previous clothing rather than simply reflecting societal conventions.
The home has its own semi-ridiculous lexicon for this — recicla (as in recycle); essorage (enzyme treatments that age a material); poverino (powder) (the combination of many vintage garments into one). But, like Marine Serre, who debuted her collection earlier this week, Mr. Galliano is making one of the most accomplished arguments for upcycling (to call a spade a spade) as the main event on the catwalk, not as a fringe sideshow.
In this example, on the screen. Mr. Galliano, like Ms. Serre, created a sort of music video for the collection rather than a show, which had something to do with youth, something to do with fishing, and something to do with William Blake’s poetry. But it was mostly about creativity and turning the notion of what is worthwhile inside out.
Herringbone greatcoats scrimmed in tulle and embellished with ancient fishing lures; candy-colored shifts and skirt suits with the seams and lining on the outside; and a slither of a flapper dress created from chains of transparent, recycled eyeglass lenses laid over black lace.
Loden wool was blended with denim and terry (terry is having a hero moment in the upcycling arena), knitwear was sewn together like Delft tiles, and a wool dress was split here and there to reveal the red lace beneath. There were latex socks and thigh-high Crayola-colored recycled rubber waders in the style of the house’s distinctive tabi boots.
In case you’re wondering what to dress to COP26, the United Nations meeting on climate change, which begins later this month in Glasgow.