Show Report: WHILE the pre-spring/summer 2012 showings

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WHILE the pre-spring/summer 2012 showings in New York operate amid a decidedly more nonchalant atmosphere, it would be hard to find a presentation more relaxed than Stella McCartney's, which was downright celebratory.

By breaking away from the home base of Milk Studios the Chelsea-based art gallery and photo studio where many of the collections have made their appearances McCartney forwent that path and threw a delightful garden party in the verdant yard of St. Luke's church, successfully lending the presentation a sense of informal elegance.

For her fall showcase, McCartney embraced a sensual, bodily visual language one filled with sheer cutaways and form-fitting ensembles but pre-found the designer judiciously offering a mix of leisurely day clothes juxtaposed with more jovial pieces. McCartney, beaming and laughing with editors and journalists, presented an ambitious range of covetables - from traditional wardrobe linchpins like superbly cut blazers paired with lean, cropped trousers to vibrant floral tops daringly shown with colourfully-striped dirndl skirts an unorthodox pairing that defied convention yet coalesced with optimistic aplomb.

While there were strong undercurrents of recent collections intimated in many looks Prada's triumphant banana prints, Raf Simons' use of rich, intense colour at Jil Sander and iterations of various Japanese designers' meditative simplicity any illusions were eclipsed by McCartney's affable sense of play and her desire to create a comprehensive, modern wardrobe.

Standout pieces - worn by giddy girls playing croquet and slurping on shaved ice - included a lustrous royal blue blazer paired with mustard pants, an effortlessly chic elongated camel coat, skilfully cut and cropped cigarette pants, a boxy cocoon top with cheery orange and blue stripes and a shapely white dress covered in dainty bows rife with amplified femininity and a merry sense of humour. The strong presence of tropical florals was inspired by Hawaiian-print T-shirts, and they successfully evoked the desire for a holiday.

Amongst the garden shrubbery, McCartney's faux-leather bags held court. Contained clutches with chain detailing and handsome satchels were nestled amongst leafy, verdant foliage, creating a droll contrast of fashion versus nature (fashion, expectedly, won).

As the sun set, guests ambled about before heading out of the cloister and out onto the street, while we lingered a bit longer to take in the vast narrative the collection told that of stylish career woman and lively urban bohemian, sometimes coexisting in one person an acknowledgment that mother-designer-wife-daughter McCartney made to the various roles the contemporary woman embodies.

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