For Fall 2021, Stella McCartney is tapping into the prospect of — and hope for — "a new beginning."
In a virtual conference with global press, the designer spoke about beginning to work on this collection amid a tough winter and another wave of lockdowns in the U.K., all of which made her realize: "There was light and there will be light at the end of the tunnel." That optimism is the driving force behind a really colorful, richly textured Fall 2021 line that makes you want to go out dancing (when it's safe, of course).
The first thing you'll notice, McCartney noted, is the "really bold, quite rich color" — whereas spring was "gentle, sweet and uplifting in its coloration," the autumnal color palette represents almost a "fighting spirit."
"It's a very powerful collection, in that I've felt and all of my team and many loved ones wanted to feel like we could truly escape into the world of fashion," McCartney said.
Other seasons, the designer continued, she might've emphasized the sustainability developments the company's made when talking about the collection, or used her fashion week slot to bring attention to larger issues. That's not to say that doesn't have a place here. (As always, the collection arrived in editors' inboxes with a "Sustainable Solutions" fact sheet, outlining the materials it used this season and how they play into the brand's larger environmental commitments.) Rather, it's just that McCartney wanted to also remind everyone of fashion's transformative, escapist capabilities — how the imagination inherent to design can inspire and uplift, how it can make us feel something.
Continuing with the brand's A to Z Manifesto, the Fall 2021 collection focuses on D, for "Desire": body-hugging dresses, exposed shoulders and sharp cut-outs on tops, knits and pants. Then, there are colorful sequins (PVC-free, of course) assembled in psychedelic patterns, clashing textures and fabrics (think lurex with knitwear), glittery platform heels (again, PVC-free) and dramatic flared bell-bottom pants and sleeves — which, all together, evoke "eccentricity" and "extravagance," an unapologetic embrace of glamour.
"Not that I've been in a club in a very long time, but I miss going into a basement and just listening to really, really loud music and dancing and getting sweaty and getting messy and feeling how that feels again," McCartney explained. "For this collection, I closed my eyes and transported myself into that place."
"When we go out to the streets," she added, "we're all going to be happy to be noticed."
Though Stella McCartney was "already a comfort brand" prior to the past year, it's definitely still a consideration for Fall 2021, which will hopefully come at a time when people are emerging from a year-plus of not dressing up. "That's been something that, at a base level, I talk about a bit more — maybe less what you see on the runway, but more behind the scenes," she said, noting how you might notice more stretch and flexibility in certain looks and fabrics when you put them on, or how there are more pants across the board.
Reflecting on the past year and how it's affected the line thematically or "philosophically," McCartney talked about how, now, "there are less rules — there shouldn't be rules. You should be able to be able to be bolder in your choices."
What we're seeing from the brand for Fall 2021 are clothes that "are there to be worn, but they're there to be noticed," the designer argued. "Sometimes, we've been very much about the sense of ease — this season, I really wanted to have that, but I wanted to have a level of confidence. There's an unapologetic side to the season because of that."
See every single look in Stella McCartney's Fall 2021 collection in the gallery, below.