Stella McCartney's autumn/winter 2017 campaign revealed

The conscientious British designer puts a spotlight on our overuse of plastic

Snapshot from Stella McCartney's autumn/winter 2017 ad campaign. Courtesy Stella McCartney
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Stella McCartney has just unveiled its womenswear autumn/winter 2017 advertising campaign, and aside from showing off some seriously beautiful clothes, the company and its eponymous designer are raising a very important issue.

A lifelong vegan, McCartney has structured her fashion house as an extension of her values, opting to only use cruelty-free materials. She champions the idea that luxury can be responsible, with 53 per cent of the womenswear collections made using sustainable, regenerated and recycled materials.

This season, however, the house is going a step further, and focusing on something we are probably all guilty of: using a lot of plastic.

In the autumn/winter 2017 campaign images, we see three beautiful women, wearing beautiful clothes in glossy photographs and a slick video (both shot by Harley Weir). The models are caught in golden light with hair blowing in the wind, making for a dreamy and romantic look-feel. As we see close-ups of plastic rubbish caught on a fence, we realise, somewhat jarringly, that these women are walking through a vast landfill site.

At one stage, the women walk in front a JCB digger (which musos will recognise as a nod to David Bowie's Ashes to Ashes video), and despite their beautiful clothes, it is impossible to ignore the rubbish they are walking over.

A clunky metaphor? Yes, but it gets a very salient point across. By drawing it to our attention in the very images that are meant to be carefree and aspirational, the campaign and, by extension, the collection make us think about the role we all play in pollution.

Spelled out in black and white, the figures make for sobering reading. This year it is estimated that 300 million tonnes of plastic will be thrown away, which is enough to circle the Earth four times, and will end up in landfills. Eight million tonnes will end up in the oceans, adding to the vast garbage patches that already mire the seas. Alarmingly, 90 per cent of that plastic has been used only once, such as bags or water bottles.

On why she felt compelled to feature this, McCartney explains: “The idea we had with this campaign is to portray who we want to be and how we carry ourselves, our attitude and collective path. Our man-made constructed environments are disconnected and unaware of other life and the planet, which is why there is waste.”

Entirely a man-made problem, McCartney is shining a light on what a mess we are making of the world. With nowhere else to go (as the saying goes, there is no Planet B), it makes for some stark realisations.

Whether McCartney's preachy approach translates into clothes sales waits to be seen, but for the Stella crowd at least it is fair to say, she is preaching to the converted.