Nothing Stella McCartney does is ever run-of-the-mill. The January 10 evening presentation of her pre-fall ready-to-wear and accessories collections, which took place at the West Village town house-turned-event space known as 632 on Hudson, lived up to the British designer’s natural sense of whimsy across all facets. “The challenge in finding a location for Stella’s presentation was that the client wanted the feel of being in someone’s private home,” said Owen Davidson, who, with partner Anne Landy, has produced five Stella McCartney events through their firm AO Production.
Once past the special topiary signage erected in front of the venue, guests arrived on the first of four presentation levels, where they were greeted by mustached bartenders serving drinks from a champagne bar and models playing with props—a recurring scene throughout the night. Meanwhile, McCartney—unable to attend the event, having recently given birth to her fourth child, baby girl Reiley—spoke via Skype from her home in London, with editors positioned in front of a laptop in the lounge.
Many of the 100 or so fashion-industry guests in attendance recalled, as they meandered through the four-story, 8,000-square-foot space, that the venue had played host to MTV’s last New York-based Real World crew. Most of the rustic town house's elements remained intact; Davidson and Landy complemented them by emphasizing the event's winter wonderland theme with two wood-burning fireplaces, evergreen foliage, flats of paper whites, and scented Diptyque figuier and pine candles. Davidson said that the venue’s cozy and intimate rooms, which took about six hours to set up with sourced props and low-voltage electric heaters (to avoid a generator on the street), lent themselves to the staging of the five groups of models.
Aside from the clothes, whose clean and modern shapes stood out against the homely environment, by far the event’s pièce de résistance was the third floor’s grand dessert table. “Working with Stella’s design team, the installation sought to achieve a baroque opulence channeled through the quirky rusticity of a farmhouse kitchen,” said Scott Skey, co-owner and co-chef at Bite. To realize this, the team assembled vintage serving pieces, including mismatched tea sets, apothecary jars, and floral china on which more than a dozen different desserts were served, including pastel macaroons, fresh berry trifles, pink cotton-candy clouds, and crystallized ginger and grapefruit meringues. Up on the roof deck, meanwhile, a Valrhona hot chocolate bar was manned by a scarf-clad waiter.
The formality of the passed hors d'oeuvres was intended to provide contrast to (as well as complement) the excess of the dessert table, referencing gracious service through the grid arrangement of canapes, white linen, and silver service, as well as the starched white white waiter jackets. In keeping with McCartney’s militant vegan stance, the menu was fully vegetarian.