Stella Mccartney’s cruelty-free autumn/winter 2023 show raises the standards for ‘responsible’ runway collections
Stella McCartney is mothering Mother Nature. Her autumn/winter 2023 collection marked several milestones, not only for the designer, but for the entire industry. It's a love letter to all life, but most especially to horses (McCartney’s preferred mode of transport, by the way). Held at France’s oldest riding school, Le Manège de l'École militaire, where models sashayed between ponies in equestrian-inspired pieces that paid tribute to the designer’s favourite animal and her British heritage. Minimal silhouettes came in the form of skirt sets, peacoats and three-piece suits complete with coquettish miniature waistcoats. Oversize blazers with eighties-style shoulders in ginger tones and checked patterns, tailored and nipped at the waist. Double-breasted, floor-sweeping coats and gowns, reminiscent of early nineties forms, but with a welcome twist.
Each piece is crafted from recycled polyester yarn, responsibly sourced wool, regenerative denim or viscose from sustainably-certified forests in Sweden. It’s her most sustainable winter collection yet, and acted as the debut for the “first-ever luxury handbags created from MIRUM® - a plant-based, plastic-free and circular alternative to animal leather.” Other fauna-friendly accessories breaking the mould include the brand new Frayme Mylo™ mycelium bag, another vegan-leather alternative, and handbags crafted from crocodile-effect AppleSkin™ (made from apple scaps).
All in all, a fantastic example of how to integrate fashion’s rich past with emerging values and production methods of the future. And McCartney is not afraid of holding her colleagues accountable for not doing the same. “I’m devastated by the amount of leather and feathers I have seen on the runways this season.” One might wonder why she’s the exception, not the rule. Whilst brands are engaging more with sustainability, there are not as many taking a stance of outrage at the current production and waste norms, like McCartney has. With almost ninety percent of her collection made up of responsible materials, she’s sending a message that’s hard to mistake. That runway’s previous standard - now that alternatives are achievable – is unnecessarily irresponsible.
Only one question remains to be answered: when will everyone else catch up?