Stella McCartney

Neighborhood: Meatpacking District
Type of Place: Designers Women's Clothing

For a bunch of reasons, I've been wanting to visit the Stella McCartney
shop in the Meatpacking District for a while now. First of all, I like
that, as a life-long vegetarian and an animal-rights activist, Stella
uses no animal products in her creations (it's especially hard to find
decent leather-free shoes, and I wondered what Stella would offer). But
secondly, I *hadn't* so much liked the designs of Stella's that I'd
seen so far--and I was curious about whether the raves she has received
were based at least as much on who she is as on what she does. Also--a
friend of mine who used to work near the shop reported seeing Stella's
pappa, Paul McCartney, around there a few times; and reported that he
was kind of a jerk (something about snottily dismissing my friend's words
of praise--ok, Paul, we know you've been hearing such things for
decades, but does that mean you have to be an ass?). Sir Paul gets on my
nerves in various ways, and it amused me to think of seeing him and
saying, "Oh, wow--you're--Stella McCartney's dad!" Or even worse: "Wow! I
can't believe I'm seeing someone who actually knew John Lennon!"

I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have had the guts for either of these
comments, but in any case Paul was safe, as he wasn't around. What I found
was a quiet and attractive shop with neuvelle-folk music playing, pretty
(and stick-thin) saleswomen, and--let's put it this way--no sales rack
to be found.

The shop is probably busy at many times, but I was there on a rainy
Friday evening, and things were subdued. That said, a few other shoppers
did come and go. I noticed that one got a compliment from a saleswoman
on her trenchcoat. I especially noticed it because I did not receive a
compliment on anything. (This is one of those stores where you know
you're being evaluated, fashion-wise: Dressing up specifically to shop here
would not be a bad idea.)

And the clothes on offer? Well, they were quite pretty. I liked them a
lot more than I'd liked some of Stella's previous lines (I especially
remember blouses emblazoned with large horse silhouettes that, animal
lover though I am, just were not my thing). Pretty, yes. Affordable, no.
I wondered what it would be like to buy something here and wear it
around. Would everyone--or anyone--know that my dress cost a month's rent?
The subway would be out: Someone might damage my silk with a cough, a
sneeze, or heaven forbid, an errant cup of coffee. And that
sweater...couldn't my grandma have made it for a lot less?

Basically, this shop represents the category of "If you've got to ask,
you can't afford it." And I sure can't; but maybe you can. Or maybe,
like me, you're just curious about what Stella's up to. I quickly made a
decision not to bother jotting down garments over $1,000. Given that, I
liked: a sleeveless sheer green-and-black-plaid blouse, $895; a
transluscent white cotton peasant blouse with a front ruffle, $645; a
long-sleeved satin blouse in pale pink with pretty button details, $765; a
pale yellow silk blouse that evoked flower petals (and *definitely* would
not withstand the subway--or the bus), $995; and a gathered blouse in
moss-green cotton ($595). I was on the fence about a long silk-knit
sweater in pale green that could also serve as a minidress. On one hand, at
least it's versatile. On the other hand, this is the one I thought my
grandma could have whipped up in a few days. And on the third hand, how
thin do you have to be to wear something with big pockets that hit
right at the hips? Anyway, it's $795.

On my way out, I stopped at a pair of shoes: beaded sandals, no leather
apparent; $995. A saleswoman politely asked if I needed any help. I
confirmed that Stella uses no animal products and reached for my
umbrella--which happened to be a leopard print. "It's not real leopard," I
joked, and the saleswoman smiled--a tiny bit. I didn't bother to explain
that the umbrella and my leather purse were both gifts, while my leather
shoes were hand-me-downs from a friend who didn't fit into any of her
old shoes after she got pregnant. Instead I eased back out into the
rain, thinking that if I were Stella McCartney, I would probably have an
eco-friendly hybrid limo waiting.
  - Pamela Grossman; May 18, 2008

Stella McCartney
429 W. 14th St
New York, NY 10014
(212) 255-1556