Stella McCartney brings horses on the catwalk to push her 'leather-free' message, sparks ethical debate | Totally Vegan Buzz
Stella McCartney brings horses on the catwalk to push her 'leather-free' message, sparks ethical debate
Image: @stellamccartney / Instagram

The new collection boasts striking outerwear and vegan bags made from grapes, apples, and mushrooms. But horses on the runway…

McCartney’s autumn/winter 2023 collection, which had seven wild horses cantering alongside models wearing styles crafted from new, eco-conscious materials on the runway, has been a telling moment in the fashion circuit.

The show was held on 6th March at France’s oldest riding school, the historic Manège de l’École Militaire.

According to McCartney, who is hailed as a pioneer in the field of ethical fashion,  the winter season was a good time to highlight cruelty-free designs with the unique spectacle of wild animals living, breathing, and playing together.

“I really wanted to make a connection with our fellow creatures because there is so much leather, fur, and feathers on the runway, especially in the winter,” she said.

“I wanted to show that you can do (fashion) in a different way, you don´t need to kill anything and it can be (just) as luxurious.”

Elaborating on the theme, McCartney said the message of the horses ‘is that they´re alive and the clothes haven’t killed anything so there’s a kind of celebration of everything living in harmony with one another.’

The horses were guided by their trainer, Jean-Francois Pignon, a horse whisperer  who doesn’t use any bridles or saddles to train the animals.

‘Ethically questionable’

The stunt has sparked a debate on whether it is ethical to get wild horses in a fashion show where lights, people, and general chaos can get overwhelming for the animals.

PETA Founder Ingrid Newkirk said that Linda McCartney loved horses and had instilled it in her children, who would never allow any sort of mistreatment towards them – or other animals.

She said: “PETA tips our vegan hats to animal-friendly fashion pioneer Stella McCartney, who reaffirmed why we love her by stating ahead of the show that her fabulous designs are made of apples, mushrooms, microfibre, and other exciting materials, a lesson for any designer still using fur, leather, or exotic skins to heed.”

However, an Animal Aid campaigner slammed the designer for the ‘ethically questionable’ stunt. 

The spokesman for the charity said: “We are surprised that Stella McCartney is using any horses, let alone the sensitive Camargue breed in her show. 

“Feral Camargue horses have been subject to exploitation for centuries because of their small stature and calm temperament.

“They are intelligent and sensitive and that is why they’ve survived in the wild Camargue region of France for so long. Fashion shows are no place for horses.

“In line with her vegan morals, Stella McCartney should stop using them in any future fashion shows.”

Stella McCartney’s collection

Stella McCartney’s latest collection is designed with 89% sustainable materials and is said to be her most ethically conscious collection to date.

It includes long, tailored jackets, cinched at the waist, furry overcoats,little cropped vests, deconstructed denim suits, low-riding trousers with draped hip chains, and other slinky apparel with horse motifs. 

However, the key innovation this year are the first-ever luxury handbags crafted from Mirium, a plant-based, plastic-free, and circular alternative to animal leather. The S-Wave and Frayme bags came in crocodile-effect AppleSkin, a fabric obtained from apple waste from the food industry.

McCartney, defending her show, stated  “This show is very much about the relationship between all creatures on planet Earth. Whether you’re a horse or not, this is a cruelty-free fashion show.  I’m trying to remind people that the things they’re watching on the runway and buying were once living beings, like these horses. There is a connection to be made.”

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