Here come the horses. We were in a riding ring of a military school at the tail end of the French collections. It was too obvious. The arena had been raked smooth, a rope line established the runway portion, and this was a Stella McCartney show. McCartney loves animals. She keeps horses at her place in the English countryside. And she has been at the forefront of cruelty-free fashion. I glanced toward a doorway with a mirror next to it, and in the reflection was a small herd of white horses cantering through the yard.
The next moment, they were in the arena, seven unbridled Camargue horses, followed by their handler, as several hundred guests, sick and tired of fashion, beamed with delight from their bleacher seats. Horses!
There are lots of ways to put on a show while putting across your values, and, you have to admit, an equine chorus line is a pretty good one. The handler was using hand and facial gestures, and an occasional flick of his whip, to make the ponies run, rear, raise a hoof, roll, and trot in circles. I felt bad that my dog, Murray, could only manage “sit.”
Meanwhile, McCartney sent out a terrific collection. Would she want to be upstaged by an animal act? Me thinks not. Best-in-show looks included her easy oversize tailoring in menswear checks and blanket plaids, with the sexy new addition of a cropped waistcoat; black low-rise pants with rows of chains at the hips; a plush teddy-bear coat in the spotted pattern of an Appaloosa; and bold images of horses on silk tee tops and sweaters. She has paid tribute to their beauty at least once before in her fashion: In the early 2000s, when she was the designer at Chloé. They certainly trigger memories of McCartney’s family history; her late mother, Linda, often featured horses in her photography. Also, deserving notice are the lace slip dresses. They’re a McCartney tradition, too, and just nicely and simply done.
Since the European collections began nearly three weeks ago, there has been a bit of sartorial flag-waving — for British traditions by Burberry, the daily Italian street parade by Bottega Veneta, and French chic from Saint Laurent. On Monday, in a Beaux-Arts ballroom at the Musée d’Orsay, Nicolas Ghesquière toasted Parisian style.
But it was not the storied look you might expect. It was kaleidoscopic. On an elevated, scaffolded runway — with a soundtrack that included traffic beeps and toots and clicking heels on pavement — Ghesquière presented a highly interpretive view of Paris. The collection ranged from chic (a great-looking off-white jacket in an ottoman fabric with leather trim at the neck and matching slim pants) to eccentric (balloon pants with a wrap jacket) to downright bizarre: a bustier dress that looked crafted out of high-pile carpet, worn over a thick gray sweater.
Only some things worked in this freewheeling collection, though the exercise itself was interesting. A lot depended on vintage styles — dull wool coats, lacy skirts over leggings — which makes sense when you look at how young girls here dress. The show was loaded, as usual, with accessories: mini–box bags; three-tone spat booties; terrific low-platform ankle-strap shoes in red, which had a nineteen-forties flavor; and visor glasses with an LED glow.
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