How do you make a woman look sensual in a sporty mesh, ultra-feminine in a pair of grandpa pyjamas? Stella McCartney offered some clues Monday with a sexy spring look blending sportswear fabrics, liquid silks and lingerie lace.
Under the ornate ceilings of the Paris Opera, Sir Paul McCartney watched his daughter's show alongside Vogue editor Anna Wintour and Salma Hayek, married to the tycoon Francois-Henri Pinault whose PPR group part owns McCartney's label.
Setting the tone, the first model stepped out in a sleeveless cream tunic dress, cut at mid-thigh and wrapped shut in front with an embroidered wave-like pattern curling from shoulder to opposite hip, over a delicate lace petticoat.
The same curvy wave motif licked at the hems of crepe de chine silk mini-dresses in oyster or ink, running in slants across the chest, cutting out a bare shoulder or defining bands of sporty airtex mesh.
Mesh panels and strips were worked into the silk and lace garments throughout, without ever breaking the sensual flow of dresses and suits worn under outsized shades and tiny chignons.
"Sportswear and lingerie are two worlds that I love," McCartney told AFP backstage after the show, staged on day seven of Paris' nine-day ready-to-wear fashion marathon for spring-summer 2012."And to bring sportswear into luxury and femininity is a really exciting thing to do."
Ample, swishing pantsuits and all-in-ones -- a McCartney staple -- were cut to suggest a man's pyjamas, but in the softest of caressing silks.
Sleeves were left long and floppy, part covering the hand, while pant hems slinked to the floor over gold-tipped high heels, sometimes under a boyish jacket worn open and loose, or a sloppy, chunky sweater in shades of red.
"I was really feeling for a kind of sloppy, effortless long-sleeved thing -- that makes you feel you're allowed to be yourself," the designer said.
McCartney's palette alternated between a dominant oyster and micro-patterns -- jacquards, paisleys, oriental circles -- whose detailing was shrunk to form almost uniform blocks of colour, in wedgewood blue or syrah red.
One blue ensemble had a short-sleeved jacket with trompe l'oeil waistcoat and cummerbund, each piece in a slightly varying pattern, over fluttering wide-leg pants.
"There is something to be said, being a woman in this day and age, for a little ease," quipped the designer, who said the look was all about effortless sensuality, "celebrating the summer, being fit and free".
"I want women to look naturally sexy. I don't want it to be shouted out," she said. "You know when you have that dress that's just forgiving, and it moves a little but it's not completely boxy: that's what I was trying to find."