Call me gender-bias, but I've noticed a difference between male and female fashion designers. The collections from male fashion designers tend to adhere tightly to a high concept or a fantasy (Africana? Tropicana? OK!), while the creations from female fashion designers tend to prioritize what's more comfortable to the female form. While Michael Kors has voiced his hatred of the trapeze dress trend, for example, designers like Donna Karan understand that the appeal of such a silhouette is that it's more forgiving of a woman's figure.
Stella McCartney is one of my favorite women designers, and it's because she resolutely designs from a woman's point of view. Her clothes are forgiving of bodily flaws, but it's more than that. Her clothes are sensual, not sexy; stylish, but not trendy; structured, but still comfortable. Most of all, her designs tap into a soft, classic feminine ideal that as modern women, we're perhaps supposed to forget about.
From viewing her collections over the years, my idea of the ideal woman who wears Stella McCartney is this: She's someone who goes out in the city wearing sleek metallic jackets and blazers, but then comes home to her English country manor and runs around in the buttercup-dotted meadows wearing drapey, chiffon dresses and cotton slips with lace. She's someone who's able to pull off strong, fashionable looks, but secretly craves billowing, soft outfits that drape here, blow in the wind there.
McCartney strikes a balance between both extremes. Take her trademark color palate, for instance. Over the years, the most oft-repeated colors in her repertoire consist of light pink, greys, creams, and blues — somewhat sacchrine colors you'd most likely find at a pastry shop or a six-year-old's birthday party. The difference is that in McCartney's hands, the tones are muted enough to look coolly sophisticated and grown-up.
Another example is McCartney's capsule collection of exercise outfits for Adidas. While most exercise gear is pretty utilitarian with its sweat-sucking fabrics and ugly contrast piping, McCartney's light-colored tennis outfits could almost cross over as ballet wear, her gym shorts resemble lingere or summer pajamas (except not as revealing), her golf shirts are blowsy blouses with intricate prints (Lacoste polos these definitely aren't). And don't get me started on her sensuous yoga uniforms!
With Stella McCartney, you get the best of both worlds: something utilitarian, but with a soft, old-fashioned heart. Now, excuse me while I go online shopping.