Stella McCartney Sets Up Shop in Miami
by Amanda Weiner
McCartney with models in New York showcasing her 2012 Resort collection
Bold cabana stripes and Hawaiian florals could have foreshadowed Stella McCartney’s next major stateside move. That is, to hotblooded Miami—just in time for the resort season that points toward the warm, tropical climates and a determinedly sunny disposition.
The shop, which opens its doors early this month at Bal Harbour, debuts in tandem with a dynamic collection that may as well have been made for the Magic City, while also bringing Stella McCartney’s hallmark environmental awareness to a new audience. She has long led the charge of fashioning eco-friendly wares, and is perhaps the largest luxury brand to resist the use of animal skins and leather across the board. Instead, she’s developed the most subtle faux leather in the business, and has remained dedicated to sustainable design and manufacturing practices, with up to 30 percent of her output implementing either organic cotton or low-impact dyes. A special capsule collection available alongside the resort line highlights McCartney’s pioneering efforts in collaboration with the Ethical Fashion Programme, a joint venture between the United Nations and the World Trade Organization, for which she designed a python-print tote and sandals, both handmade in Kenya using recycled tent canvas.
Presented at a garden party in New York’s West Village, the resort collection marries McCartney’s signature sleek style with a youthful exuberance. Models paraded and played: croquet, Scrabble, piñata. They ate lollipops and jellybeans, the goingson all conveying a lightness of attitude. “For this collection, I wanted an explosion of print and color to really capture the energy and excitement of the new season,” McCartney notes. For spring, this translates into a hand-painted Hawaiian print turned optical when mirrored, set against a graphic deck chair stripe. “The two main features of the collection really scream vacation, and hence Florida, to me,” the designer says. Along with T-shirts embroidered with palm trees and adorned with gilded palm-tree pins, the tropical motif is set against the classic tailoring that defines Stella McCartney. In sherbet hues and modern silhouettes— a creamy canary-yellow blazer with a slightly cropped sleeve, French pleat cigarette pants in a houndstooth print, cocoon-like capes adorned with bows, and nubby knits with exaggerated shirt tails—McCartney’s world is where business meets the unexpected.
This collection in particular showcases the designer’s talent for mixing and matching, as well as her customer’s equally unique brand of dressing. “I design each item, rather than outfits. I am not really a head-to-toe designer. Every piece is an object.” Thus, each item is crafted to perfection, worn to be mixed as erratically (note the stripe and print pairing) or as minimally as desired. “I am driven by the ways that men or women choose the things they wear, what makes them feel good, how it affects their moods. I try to take that on board. Personally, I have a vision for a way I want a woman to dress, perhaps because I am a woman and I know what I like. To me, it’s not what it looks like in a studio or on the runway; it’s what it looks like on a real person that matters.”
Perhaps McCartney’s acute understanding of her customer and her contemporary take on luxury are what’s invited her overwhelming success, internationally and here in Florida. The Bal Harbour Shops boutique will be her first freestanding store in the state, but will also coincide with two shop-in-shops opening in Saks Fifth Avenue at Palm Beach and Town Center at Boca Raton—nods to her growing local fan base. “It just felt like the right time for us,” McCartney says, “and we happen to have found the right venue. We wanted to create a space that combines our brand’s distinct use of sharpness and femininity, while also reflecting an intimate, personal, and architectural atmosphere.”
As the designer begins to promote her ethical business practices and unique brand of chic individuality here, she finds that Miami does, in fact, prove to be an idyllic new home for the label. “The Stella McCartney woman, like the Miami woman, is always naturally sexy, naturally confident, and modern.” Bal Harbour Shops, 9700 Collins Ave., 305-864-2218
photograph by patrickmcmullan.com (opener)