What were the Davids (Hockney and Lynch) chatting about with half the Beatles (Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr) at a barely lighted table in Hollywood? We don’t know either, but it was just one of the many memorable moments in a star-studded evening full of them thanks to British designer Stella McCartney’s decision to decamp to Los Angeles to present her latest collections in a rocking, rollicking, free-form party atmosphere.
“A semi-historical music location in L.A. is somewhere I feel very at home,” McCartney told us in between sets by soul singer Leon Bridges and avant-garde synth-pop singer Grimes. “It’s very natural for us to have parties in L.A. All my friends seem to have moved here.” (Although McCartney told us she wasn’t sure whether her father, Paul McCartney, had ever made use of the SIR Studios facilities at Wilcox Avenue and Sunset Boulevard, a post-show release noted that the instrument-rental place was celebrating its 50th anniversary.)
The fashion designer dubbed the event, which included clusters of collection-clad models flanking the performance stage and scattered throughout SIR Studios, a “Stella-bration,” but it was so full of musical talent — on- and off-stage — that one of our fellow fashion journalists more accurately described it as “Stella-chella.”
Before we move on to the serious name-dropping (and you’ll see just how serious below), here’s a brief look at the clothes at the center of Tuesday night’s “Stella-bration.”
The women’s autumn 2018 collection (what most designers would designate a “pre-fall” collection) was heavy on patterns — most notably blurry watercolor versions of cheetah and leopard spots printed onto silk and recycled nylon outerwear that was balanced by crisp, concise zigzags and stripes in bold red and white.
The animal motif continued with an eye-catching “fur-free fur coat” (McCartney’s entire line is vegan) that looked as if it had been cut into pieces and then haphazardly sewn back together. (It was much better-looking than it sounds.)
Although one of McCartney’s signatures is melding the masculine and feminine (Exhibit A: Claire Foy’s tuxedo at the recent Golden Globes), some of the stunners here were the more feminine pieces; slip dresses and track suits (the latter part of an ongoing Adidas Originals collaboration) with lace insets on the softer side; and the decidedly less soft ball-gown-inspired dress crafted from gold lurex that had been crumpled and pressed to the point that it resembled paper.
McCartney’s menswear offering, now in its third season, similarly played with pattern and print but through the lens of the uniform — school, military and the like. That brought the animal prints into sharper focus as full-on camouflage patterns on pullover V-neck sweaters or fuzzy cardigans — or splattered, paint-like, over a Prince of Wales check on tailored wool coats or recycled nylon puffer jackets. Other military touches came by way of chevrons and diagonal stripes on track jackets and work shirts.
A standout pattern on the men’s side (which also appeared on a few of the women’s accessories on display) was a red-lipped, toothy grin rendered in a late-’60s style and accompanied by the words “No Smile No Service” and splashed across scarves, throw blankets and a chunky tweed wool coat.
Rounding out the men’s and women’s collections was a collection of sustainably designed sneakers. Called Loop, the sneakers are made using stretch-knit uppers that are stitched, not glued, to bio-based thermoplastic polyurethane soles made from renewable resources.
Somehow it strikes us as absolutely fitting that the Beatle offspring’s latest step toward eco-friendly fashion creeps in on a (renewable) rubber sole.
In addition to sets by Bridges and Grimes, the presentation-turned-party included the musical stylings of BØRNS, St. Vincent and Beck, who performed a handful of songs (several backed by a 10-member choir) before closing out the night with an enthusiastic version of “Where It’s At.”
With all due respect to the behatted Beck, though, the performance that had everyone on their feet and waving their cellphones in the air came from a Beatles cover band called Dr. Pepper and the Jaded Hearts Club Band (whose members include Muse’s Matt Bellamy and Dom Howard), which performed a blistering set that started with “I Saw Her Standing There” and ended with “Helter Skelter,” both of which had the elder McCartney up onstage and singing along.