Stella McCartney Celebrated Her Pre-Fall Collection at an Iconic Harlem Venue

Alicia Keys headlines last night’s Stella McCartney event. Photo: Joe Schildhorn/

Harlem’s legendary nightspot, the Cotton Club, is currently celebrating its 40th anniversary in its current location. (The original nightclub to bear that name opened in 1923.) What better venue for Stella McCartney to hold her latest immersive pre-fall show? After all, the designer said, weaving her way through a crowd that included atypical fashion-event attendees like Jerry Seinfeld and Jeff Koons, both good friends of hers: “I’m half New Yorker, half British, and this is just such an iconic location. It’s something you really associate with music, fashion, style.” Cigarette girls — proffering gum instead of smokes — and ’20s-style dancers added to the retro feel.

McCartney even tapped hometown hero Alicia Keys to perform, and the cheers crescendoed as she segued from “New York, New York” to “Empire State of Mind.” As the music portion of the evening wound down, the models were still swaying in their Boomerang-friendly fringe ensembles. “The collection just really complemented this venue,” the designer said. “That wasn’t the intention, because the timing is different” between the design and finding a location, she noted. Intentional or not, all the fringe and the red-and-pink color story did blend in well with the backdrop, and managed to evoke the city’s Jazz Age heyday.

Still, true to McCartney’s split nationality, there was a British element in the form of Prince of Wales check suits, Sloaney argyles, and prints based on the U.K. comic strip “The Dandy.” There was a hint of the ’70s, too, in the turtlenecks with D-ring embellishments and the floor-sweeping flares. The designer told the Cut that she wanted “to bring glamour into the season, color and silhouette, fringing and movement,” while not making the collection feel like a period piece. Mission accomplished.

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