Mar 9, 2009
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Stella McCartney's yin and yang

Mar 9, 2009

PARIS, March 9, 2009 (AFP) - Stella McCartney played on the contrast between men's and women's clothing with her collection for next winter on Monday, giving her romantic vision with an underlying hard edge.

Stella McCartney - Photo : Pixel Formula

"I think every woman has two sides, the yin and the yang, the man and the woman," she told AFP backstage.

So an outsize Prince of Wales check jacket with lapels elongated to the hem came over a swishy little frock, and big white satin blouses with ballooning leg'o'mutton sleeves were tucked into low slung pants cut like men's suit trousers.

For partying she showed sexy lingerie dresses in slivers of satin and velvet with inlays of sheer lace, which looked like faint tattoos, down the arms or edging plunge V-necklines.

As a committed animal rights advocate, fur and leather are strictly verboten, but roomy boucle wool coats as bulky as fur would keep out the cold -- more practical than the bolero bristling with silver tubes like a hedgehog which shed its prickles on the runway.

Her father Sir Paul took pictures with his mobile phone throughout and stood up at the end to lead the applause with the singer Pink, who gave a press conference with Stella after the show to launch an international anti-fur campaign.

For their label presented in a converted warehouse, Dutch design duo Viktor (Hurstings) and Rolf (Snoeren) appeared to have tamed their wilder instincts in keeping with the new mood of austerity fashion. It was all about wearable clothes, albeit at the cutting edge.

Models emerged onto the runway from a backdrop of Greek statuary on high pillars, their faces bleached white as stone like actors in Japanese No theatre.

Belted wrap coats and skirts were folded down the front like kimonos, while shoulders were built up, and sleeves and pants had corrugated drapes which trembled as the models moved. The effect was sometimes like unfolded origami figures, leaving the impression of three-dimensional geometric shapes.

But the palette dominated by mustard, murky browns and greys was a tad depressing, with only an occasional flash of copper or shrimp pink.

Nothing could be further from the over-the-top pyrotechnics of Manish Arora's presentation in a garage in a rundown back street, where he had his models teetering across uneven concrete in their perilous heels.

For next winter, he conjured up a fantasy world of mythical creatures, from flying dolphins to butterflies with leopardskin wings, and threw some characters from Walt Disney's "Lion King" and "Jungle Book" into the mix.

Stand-out pieces included exquisitely embroidered white peacocks emblazoned on both sides of a shift dress and a midnight blue tunic.

Lions heads in shiny red and orange sequins stared unnervingly from shoulders, antlers protruded from a dress, giant tropical flowers in fluorescent pink sprouted from catsuits, exotic butterflies took wing from hips...and a baby gorilla turned up as a clutch bag.

Veronique Leroy's collection for Leonard, which specialises in prints, had a new funky leopard skin print, both in the natural big cat colours and glammed up in black, violet and red.

She showed jersey day dresses in subdued beige and stone picked out in pink and blue, while dramatic giant florals in geranium red and fuschia on black came into their own for evening.

Daniel Tribouillard, the house's founder, told AFP that despite the recession "2008 was our best year this century" and that Leonard is continuing to expand in Asia, opening new stores in Shanghai and Macau to increase its distribution in China. His response to the crisis was to produce "clothes that are very wearable and not too expensive."by Sarah Shard

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