New collection is a smash for Stella McCartney

By JOELLE DIDERICH, Associated Press
Published March 9, 2006

PARIS - Stella McCartney is riding high.

The British designer's recent collection for Swedish retailer H&M was a sellout, she has launched a new tennis line with Adidas, and her own label is on course to turn a profit next year.

Her autumn-winter ready-to-wear collection, presented last week, accordingly oozed easy confidence.

Guests, including Courtney Love, watched as models paraded across an ornate ballroom at Paris' Grand Hotel in sweater dresses and super-skinny jeans tapping into fashion's obsession with the 1980s.

McCartney, 34, designs for women like herself, and her look has evolved with her lifestyle. The rock chick who revolutionized the French label Chloe in the late 1990s has now become a wife and mother who heads her own business.

The daughter of former Beatle Paul McCartney has thrown out her gimmicky slogan T-shirts and filled her wardrobe with luxurious V-neck sweaters that she might pair with perfectly cut slouchy trousers to wear to the office.

Working with a refined palette of taupe, indigo and her trademark dusty pink, McCartney sent out shawl-necked cardigans that swathed the body over matching opaque tights and towering ankle boots.

Deftly draped cashmere dresses in contrasting volumes bore witness to her training on Savile Row, the London area famous for hand-tailored suits.

Though grown up, the McCartney girl still likes to party. A night on the town will find her flashing her legs in an Empire-line babydoll dress or a shift covered with hundreds of oversized sequin discs.

Teenage girls aren't the only ones who aspire to McCartney's unique brand of urban cool. Celebrity fans include close friends Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow, who wore one of her designs at the Oscars last year.

Pamela Anderson has championed the label for refusing to use leather and fur. McCartney is a strict vegetarian, like her late mother Linda.

The newly svelte and sober Love, who is recording an album with producer Linda Perry, said she only partially supports the ban on animal byproducts.

"I'm really antifur and my daughter is as well. My daughter's godmother is Drew Barrymore, and whenever I get tempted I think, you know, Drew would probably kill me," she said. "But leather: I'm rock - I have to do leather."