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2003-Jun-07: Stella the Tailor

Today's London  Financial Times published an interview with Stella McCartney during which she discussed her special line of trouser suits.   Stella recalled an encounter she experienced while strutting down the street a few years ago.  A man approached:
"A city guy. I thought he was really checking me out. But I realized, as he went by, he wasn't. He was checking out my suit."
Stella believes that there is nothing sexier than a woman in a man's suit:
"It's the push-pull between masculine and feminine.
The top floor of Stella's London boutique houses a tailoring service for both women and men.  It is decorated with grey-flannel couches, dark-wood floors and grey-green paneled walls.  Clients are offered tea (or whiskey if they prefer).  Stella, who studied tailoring at St. Martins and apprenticed on Savile Row, says:
 "Men can come in with their wives, and while the women shop in the ready-to-wear sections, their partners can hop upstairs to order a suit. Or the women can have their own suits made.
 "[It] is for people who want something, but don't know what it is they want.  It's utterly individual, something that's made for your body and taste, something no one else has. And it's a tool to disguise. There's nothing like a bespoke suit for hiding human imperfection.

"Everyone should have a great tux.  It's such a safe bet for looking classy. But where does a woman find one? I don't really think they exist in ready-to-wear. You can't cut corners on a great tux, and often in an off-the-peg style the grosgrain on the collar won't be good enough or the leg won't have the weight of the men's styles.

"The first time I went to have a suit made, I was really intimidated. I was about 20. And the tailor made all these suggestions about cut, and I just agreed, but in the end I wasn't that happy with it. I like a narrower shoulder than is used for men, and a smaller sleeve - I mean, who wants to look like they've got massive arms? Tailors also tend to take the structure of a suit out for a female client, but I like that crispness. And then there are all the details you can change to feminise a suit: puff the shoulder, switch the stitching on the button holes to a color."

A Stella McCartney suit will take an average of six weeks to make, with one or two interim fittings. Stella is compiling a catalog of styles from which her female clients can select various elements such as the curve of the collar or waist, the size of the lapels, or the  flare of the trouser leg.  There will be a variety of fabrics from which to choose including Stella's favorite vintage cloth acquired from old textile mills.  All the designs will reflect Stella's unique sense of style because, as she says:
 "After all, if I can't bring something of me to the table, why come here in the first place?"

(kindly submitted by PLUGGED correspondent Joan M. Hopkins)


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