Stella McCartney on dressing for life after lockdown

This week, CNC students joined the renowned eco-friendly designer, Stella McCartney, in a virtual press conference as she unveiled her AW21 collection, D for Desire, on dressing for life after lockdown. Explaining the intricacies behind her sequin-fuelled club-kid collection conjuring escapism, McCartney invited 30 students to dial in amongst prominent industry professionals and esteemed critics such as Sarah Mower from Vogue, Alexander Fury from The Financial Times and AnOther, Cathy Horyn from The Cut, and Hannah Marriott from The Guardian, to dial in and ask the founder questions about her 30-piece collection, filmed inside London’s Tate Modern.

In a candid dialogue about the lessons learned over lockdown this past year, CNC BA student, Angel Nemov, who contributes to Vogue Global Network, questioned the designer on the influence of Gen Z and the glamorisation of club-kid culture that celebrates freedom, being unapologetic and taking risks which McCartney captures for this season. Students Julia Strogonova and Sadaf Punjoo discuss the press conference and McCartney’s visions for dressing in life after lockdown.


Stella McCartney life lockdown

Addressing a global desire for glamour


For Stella McCartney, her AW21 collection is not the final destination of the bright future, rather, a transitional period to a more promising future. 

The collection references a metamorphosis from abstract expressionism to American minimalism, where the setting, style, the sound and textures compliment the ideology of “in between” – a life beyond the pandemic and the sense of escapism at our fingertips. the freedom and lockdown. The pace of the show as if speeds up the viewer to the “new” life, filled with desire.  

In contrast to her usual minimalism, Stella is purposefully referential this season. While her collection encompasses elements of her brand identity: sustainability, family values, modern chic look, a louder statement is at play for winter making use of neon colours, oversized jacket, thigh boots, wrap dresses, to windbreakers and vests.



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A metamorphosis from minimalism to maximalism


The collection is evocative and reflects a yearning for the glamour and eccentricity absent from our everyday life in the pandemic. The soul requests disco, while the circumstances dictate to sit still.  Overall mood of the show remains subtle but purposeful, as the collection evolves in an aquatic metamorphosis. An amphibian palette later takes precedence alongside and fluid dresses, sailors’ “storm flare” pants, bubbly cutouts, wavy prints and iridescent tights. 

Stella McCartney’s British heritage is a potent force throughout the collection, utilising knitwear, a signature trope for the brand. Sustainability remains a major connection and light source in the transitional collection – PVC-free, vegan duck, forest-friendly satin. 

Depicting a future of fun and festivity, provocative one-shoulder minis and midis, punky chains, colourful disco lights punctuate the show the same sense of energy we’re craving pending our release from lockdown. Strong silhouettes of the body are achieved through sport costumes and pyjamas, while however, a turtleneck, sweater, vest, and jacket maintain attention, a staple from our increasingly relaxed state of dress as a result of working from home and the sense of comfort that provides.

Capturing the energetic reverence of the ’70s – with an eclectic, freedom-fuelled vision combined with  punk, Stella McCartney’s latest collection provides a chance to recharge, to celebrate the new beginning, which through transitional winter 2021 will appear in full bloom for SS21.



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Maintaining a sustainable agenda in for AW21


While looking at this collection there was an unapologetic attitude to the looks; which is what fashion is all about. From bright colours to garments adorned with sequins, Stella definitely embodied the idea that clothes are meant to be “worn and noticed.” During the press event McCartney covered many issues in the fashion industry including the “elephant in the room;” the treatment of animals in the fashion and agricultural industry.  Her work confronts these issues and brings them into light through her work, and this collection was no exception. Her work always offers a new perspective on fashion and the environment around her. 

The weather this lockdown was quite “bleak” as McCartney described yet she curated a collection that was in preparation for the future; bright, colourful and glamorous. McCartney looked at the future rather than getting stuck in the present. This collection and all her work offers a new perspective of fashion and the future of our planet. Like all of McCartney’s collections, this winter collection featured sustainable materials that were sourced ethically. She is proud to say that she has eliminated the use of faux fur completely from this collection because “we don’t need heavy furs anymore”. 



Stella McCartney life lockdown


Translating nostalgia into excitement for post-pandemic life

Through the looks in this collection McCartney really epitomised the prospects for a brighter future. Creating a collection with such an optimistic overview is truly inspiring. Despite all the negatives that might have ensued from this lockdown, one of the positives would be the attention that sustainability is getting in the fashion industry. This issue has been magnified over the last few months, with Stella at the forefront. This collection is a reflection of the energy and youthful style that consumers have been craving.

This collection perfectly embodied her concept of “D is for Desire” and was an ode to the eccentric nightlife and the nostalgia of going out. When discussing the energetic atmosphere of those nights she said: “I miss going to a basement and listening to really loud music. And dancing, getting sweaty, getting messy and how that feels,” and we can clearly see that vision through this collection. With A is for Accountability and Z is for Zero Waste, her next collection is highly anticipated.

By Julia Strogonova, MA Fashion Communication and Sadaf Punjoo, Vogue Foundation Programme

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