Stella McCartney’s recent Paris Fashion Week show saw some unusual models on the runway: two cows, a fox, a horse, two rabbits and a crocodile paraded down the runways alongside the regular display of models clad in the designer’s new collection.
The animal suits were a fun, attention-grabbing way to bring home McCartney’s message: animal skins don't belong on the runway.
"What we try to do is to sugarcoat a powerful, meaningful message in a little bit of humour and fun, to make our point in a palatable and digestible way so that people listen," said McCartney to the Guardian.
"These animals are the ingredients of everyone else's fashion shows. We are the only luxury fashion house in the world that isn't killing animals on the runway. I wanted to make that point, but in a joyous way."
'Skinning isn't winning'
On the brand's Instagram profile, the show was celebrated with graphics that pictured animals frequently used for fashion, with strong messages: a cartoon fox saying 'my coat looks better on me', a snake on a podium proclaiming 'skinning isn't winning' and cows bringing the message of 'more pleasure, less leather'.
With the message 'Stella saved our skin', the cartoon animals reminded the designer's 6+ million followers that she is a force for good in the fashion industry.
No fur, no leather
Since the launch of her brand in 2001, Stella McCartney has been a passionate voice for animals used for fashion.
The first designer to refuse to work with fur and leather, she is responsible for the first-ever leather-free It bag, the Falabella. The brand also doesn't use feathers or animal-derived glues, and has previously created ad campaigns with a proud 'No fur, leather or feathers' message.
McCartney herself is known for her commitments to sustainability – including a role as special advisor on sustainability to Bernard Arnault, the chief executive of luxury group LVMH – and her outspoken stance on animal welfare.
Her commitments to cruelty-free fashion continue off the runway: she has narrated a PETA video revealing the dark truth behind the leather trade, and has spoken out against the use of animal skins at the Kering Talk event on sustainability at the London College of Fashion in 2016.
Speaking at the event, she said that 'fashion is literally getting away with murder', explaining that vegan materials perfectly replicate the look of animal-derived fabrics, only without the cruelty: “You really can’t tell the difference," she said. "There's no reason to kill 15 million innocent creatures."
Vegan campaigners everywhere are hoping that the brand will drop wool and silk as well, and become the first vegan luxury brand at Fashion Week – and as Stella has hinted that the company is looking into vegan wool, that could very well be happening soon.