Fashion

Stella McCartney made a powerful animal rights statement at Paris Fashion Week

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Lara Faye
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It’s official: vegan fashion is taking centre stage at Paris Fashion Week as cruelty-free designer Stella McCartney sent an unmissable animal rights message at the core of her new season collection. 

Paris Fashion Week is no stranger to activist spectacle. From a deliberately flooded front row at Balenciaga to bold, feminist set design at Dior, this season we really have seen it all. Now, at the end of a long fashion month set against the backdrop of the corona virus outbreak, Stella McCartney put a smile on even the stoniest of fashion editors’ faces with a cast of cute animal characters walking in her autumn/winter 2020 show. 

 In a moment of theme-park-meets-fashion the London-based designer added a touch of Noah’s Ark chic to her latest collection with a cast of models dressed as cows, horses, a rabbit, a fox and a crocodile walking alongside the main collection designs in the show’s finale. Though the effect may have felt like a light-hearted moment of comic relief primed for the Instagram age, the message behind this catwalk spectacle was rooted in an issue at the heart of Stella McCartney’s brand DNA: animal rights. 

Though the sight of a models in full animal costume was a spectacle indeed, seeing animals on the catwalk is nothing new. During fashion month we see animals, birds and reptiles take center stage on the runway on a daily basis, in the form of leather bags, fur coats, feathered embellishments and exotic skin accessories. When seen in the form of accessories and the latest pieces, it is easy to forget the animal cost behind the new season collection, but Stella McCartney’s cast of animal costumes was a pertinent reminder of the real sources behind animal-derived designs. 

The cartoonish fox and alligator may be more palatable than some more extreme animal rights campaigns, but the message was no less clear: the time has come for the world of luxury to embrace cruelty-free fashion. 

Indeed, since launching her eponymous label in 2001, Stella McCartney has been a pioneer of vegan luxury. With issues surrounding eco-conscious style and sustainability dominating the fashion conversation in 2020, it seems difficult to image a point when ethical design was anything but chic. In recent years, attitudes to fashion’s environmental responsibilities have changed radically, and when it comes to cruelty-free credentials Stella McCartney it seems is firmly on the right side of history.  

Taking to Instagram prior to Monday’s show, Stella McCartney teased followers with a series of posts that celebrated the label’s commitment to cruelty-free fashion. “No leather, feathers or fur since 2001” read one illustrated posted. 

Another depicted a cartoon fox angrily stating “My coat looks better on me” while one tongue in cheek illustration showed a pair of cows enjoying  an intimate moment, while a speech bubble that read “More pleasure, less leather”.  

More pleasure, less leather indeed. Or rather, in the case of Stella McCartney’s autumn/winter 2020, more pleasure and even more faux-leather. Showcasing more vegan leather than any of her previous collections, with an emphasis on PVC clothes and accessories as well as premium quality faux-leather handbags - an exciting proposition for fashion lovers searching for high-end faux-leather accessories that look (and feel) every bit as luxe as the real thing. 

Can’t wait until Stella McCartney’s new collection drops in stores later this year? Inject your style with a shot of vegan luxury with  five of the chicest cruelty-free designs to add to your wardrobe now.

  • JW Pei

    Los Angeles based brand JW Pei creates timeless pieces in sustainable vegan materials. This top handle bag makes a sophisticated addition to any outfit in a caramel toned croc effect faux-leather design. 

    Shop JW Pei top handle bag, £61

  • Nanushka

    Nanushka’s faux-leather designs look every bit as luxurious as the real thing. Though we could happily add every faux-leather piece from the brand’s new collection to our wardrobes, this button-through tan mini-dress will look chic all summer long, and works just as well for spring when worn over a silk shirt or turtleneck jumper on cooler mornings,  

    Shop Nanushka vegan leather mini dress at Far Fetch, £396

  • Stella McCartney

    A pioneer of cruelty-free luxury, Stella McCartney’s chain-fringed Falabella tote was the first vegan style to achieve It Bag status. Though the iconic black faux-suede style is always in style, this lilac miniature version feels suitably fresh for spring. 

    Shop Stella McCartney Falabella mini tote, £620 

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Images courtesy of Getty & brands.