Stella McCartney to launch men's line

The designs for the British team for this year's Olympics in Rio by Stella McCartney (centre), in collaboration with sports brand Adidas. With her are (from left) rugby captain Tom Mitchell, track-and-field athlete Jessica Ennis-Hill, diver Tom Daley
The designs for the British team for this year's Olympics in Rio by Stella McCartney (centre), in collaboration with sports brand Adidas. With her are (from left) rugby captain Tom Mitchell, track-and-field athlete Jessica Ennis-Hill, diver Tom Daley and sprinter Olivia Breen. PHOTO: REUTERS

The fashion designer's collection to be launched in November will feature suits and separates as well as outerwear and accessories

After decades spent transforming the tenets of menswear for women, imbuing the traditional Savile Row trouser suit with a sexual insouciance, Stella McCartney is finally doing the inevitable: making menswear for men.

Last Thursday - as the men's fashion circus swirled in Florence, Italy, at the Pitti Uomo trade fair - the designer confirmed long- rumoured plans for a men's line, to debut on Nov 10 in London alongside her spring women's collection, the one that used to be presented in May, but that has now moved to a see-now/buy-now schedule, with the show taking place just before the clothes go on public sale.

Similarly, the menswear will be sold a month after the big reveal, hitting shelves in early December.

"The desire to marry the Stella woman to a man has been inside me since the very beginning," said McCartney, herself a Stella woman married to a man, on announcing the news.

"My time on Savile Row" - she trained with tailor Edward Sexton after graduating from Central St Martins - "inspired so much of what I do and it feels like the right moment to talk to men and give them what they deserve," she said. "I want to deliver to men what I deliver to women." And what is that?

"A wardrobe, a choice and effortless modern clothes," she said.

Translation: Like her womenswear, the menswear will be leather- and shearling-free and, like her womenswear, it will be a full collection, encompassing suits and separates, outerwear and accessories. Eyewear is in the works.

However, unlike her womenswear, the men's collection will not be associated with any particular season: The line, which will continue to be shown with McCartney's pre-collections and not on the classic menswear schedule, will be called something like Collection One and Collection Two (it will be sold to wholesalers a few months before it is shown to the press and public). The theory is that men buy differently from women: They see something and, if they like it, want to get it immediately. They do not think in trends.

As to what the clothes might look like, that is still a secret. However, some clues may be found in McCartney's past.

The designer has dabbled in menswear before, making suits for her husband, Alasdhair Willis (a jazzy midnight-blue double-breasted tuxedo with black lapels) and her father, Sir Paul McCartney (a single- breasted tartan tux atop classic black trousers), to wear to the Met Gala in 2011.

She has done bespoke pieces for director Guy Ritchie and the late singer David Bowie and she makes all the competition and off-duty Olympic Village clothing in collaboration with Adidas, including some urban athleisure sweats, for the male and female members of Britain's Olympic team. The overall look for both is kind of tailored, no-fuss hipster.

There is nothing new about brands making their names in womenswear and then segueing into the men's market, often successfully, much like Lanvin, Christian Dior and Louis Vuitton.

Although all those brands have named menswear designers running the men's side of the business (Lucas Ossendrijver, Kris Van Assche and Kim Jones), Miuccia Prada has been as influential in menswear design as she has been in womenswear and, at Hermes, the long-term men's creative director, Veronique Nichanian, has given the men's line its own clear identity.

The biggest risk may lie in the fact that McCartney has built her identity as a designer on the idea of being a "woman designing for women", as she told The Guardian in 2014 and there is some ambivalence around how that will translate for men.

Part of her calling card has been a willingness to eschew capital-F Fashion statement-making for real- life statement-making, focusing on clothes that allow a customer to move seamlessly from breakfast waffles to power meeting to margaritas in Ibiza with seemingly effortless aplomb.

That is not necessarily a gender- specific aesthetic, but it has been sold that way in the past.

Of course, people no longer live in such gender-specific days.

So, perhaps the real question is: What took her so long?

NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 23, 2016, with the headline 'Stella McCartney to launch men's line'. Print Edition | Subscribe