Stella McCartney: Ready-To-Wear AW23

The first looks out weren’t wearable, instead, they were seven Camargue steeds. Galloping and rolling around to Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus” within the historic Manège de l’École Militaire – an 18th century riding ring – they were just as much a kernel as the models, who trotted alongside the cavalcade in floor-sweeping satin gowns and exquisite suiting. 

The horses came courtesy of Jean-Francois Pignon, a French horse whisperer and rescuer who’s been training nags using only his body language for nearly three decades. It was a portrayal of the incredible bonds, trust and respect that can exist between human and beast – Stella McCartney’s prerogative being to show that animals can grace the runway without being killed. “My Winter 2023 show is both a celebration of the love between humans and animals,” she said. 

The recent CBE recipient went on to explain that the show was also “a call-to-action, to take a stand for our planet,” and this, her most conscious winter collection ever, really drove that message home. 92 percent of it was crafted from responsible materials, a bevy of which were firsts. Innovations included the first-ever luxury handbags crafted from Mirum® – a 100 percent recyclable and circular, plant-based, plastic-free alternative to animal leather. There was also an inaugural Frayme Mylo bag in white mycelium – a mushroom material that comes from the naturally abundant, infinitely renewable root-like structure of fungi. Handmade S-Wave and Fraymes were also rendered in crocodile-effect AppleSkin, which uses the waste of food industry apples. 

McCartney’s equestrian grammar wove its way through just about everything. Bespoke Savile Row tailoring was nipped in at the waist to look like hunting coats with sharp exaggerated shoulders. Quilted pea coats and knee-length skirts referenced horse blankets while coats and over-the-knee boots came covered in Appaloosa-inspired prints and rugby jumpers had gold horse embroidery. Loafers and heels had moulded toe shapes similar to hooves. Hairy cape sweaters featured a jacquard inspired by the coat of the designer’s first horse, Harmony, and spaghetti strap slips became the canvas for her mother Linda McCartney’s photography to live. Polo shirts featured pixelated editions of her sister Mary’s stallion shots. 

In Y2K style, low slung banana and cigarette trousers were adorned by McCartney’s Chloé-era body chain jewellery, alongside ivory hussar jackets, sexy three-piece suits, spliced denim and rope-detail jersey and Georgette dresses. 

Photography courtesy of Stella McCartney.

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