Paris Fashion Week


remy de la mauviniere/associated press

Canadian model Daria Werbowy wears a tufted wool coat by Stella McCartney, an alternative to the furs shown by other designers.

Ethical fashion may be the new buzzword sweeping the clothing industry, but for Stella McCartney, caring for the environment is a family affair.

The British designer, who grew up on an organic farm, unveiled an autumn-winter collection yesterday that was heavy on chunky knitwear, with accessories that included pink satin stilettos and large rubberized canvas bags.

Like her late mother Linda, McCartney is a prominent animal rights activist. She is the only top-tier designer who has steadfastly refused to use leather or fur, a difficult stance in an industry that relies on high-margin accessories for the bulk of its profits.

McCartney said she supported militants who disrupted two fashion shows on Wednesday to protest against the use of animal pelts. "I totally disagree with any electrocuted animals on people’s backs, so I think it’s for the right reasons," she told reporters.

remy de la mauviniere/associated press

Shown above are looks from the fall-winter 2007/2008 collection by Stella McCartney, shown yesterday in Paris. McCartney is the only top-tier designer who has steadfastly refused to use leather or fur.

The designer wore her heart of her sleeve with Fair Isle sweaters patterned with a polar bear motif. She provided luxurious alternatives to fur with a cocoon-shaped coat in tufted grey wool and a zippered maxi-cardigan covered in curly black wool.

"It’s sort of giving more staples hopefully of every woman’s wardrobe, but really getting it completely right and fine-tuning it down to the minimum, but also with little details and high luxury fabrics and finishing," McCartney said.

Daywear included cashmere all-in-ones with racer backs in black or eye-popping pink. Party girls had a choice between pearl satin shifts or a black baby doll nonchalantly paired with a hooded anorak.

Ethical fashion is going from strength to strength, reflecting strong consumer demand for fashion with a conscience, noted Matilda Lee, editor of the lifestyle section of British magazine The Ecologist. "Stella McCartney is a pioneer. She’s fabulous on a lot of fronts because she has combined the high-end designer aspect of it with staying true to her ethical standpoint," said Lee.

The term spans everything from the use of recycled materials and organic textiles to socially responsible manufacturing that guarantees farmers a decent revenue. Even big corporations are buying into the concept, helping to give the worthy-but-drab image of "green" fashion a major makeover. Think hip, rather than hippie.

As a result, demand for organic cotton is outstripping supply, with everyone from British high street retailer Marks & Spencer to denim brand Levi’s seeking a share of the market.

remy de la mauviniere/associated press

Canuck model Jessica Stam in a Stella McCartney frock yesterday.

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