Stella McCartney wows at Paris Fashion Week with a limited-edition vegan mushroom leather bag: ‘It’s not killing any animals.’
Despite the smaller than usual crowds at Paris Fashion Week, the stars came out in droves to Stella McCartney’s Spring/Summer 2022 show. But the biggest star of the event was the sustainable mushroom leather handbag, making its runway debut as part of the collection.
The first Frayme Mylo handbag—the black mushroom leather version of the brand’s Frayme bag—has been in the works for more than four years, according to McCartney. She said the mushrooms are grown in labs using no water and little electricity. But it has taken years for the designer and the mushroom producer Mylo to perfect the vegan leather.
“Now we’re at the point where I feel like I can roll it out,” she told Vogue. “Otherwise I wouldn’t have put it on the runway.”
Much room for mushrooms
McCartney pulled mushroom-themed designs through the runway collection with nods to the 1970s—the heyday of psilocybin mushrooms and the birthplace of the sustainability ethos that runs through her designs. The soundtrack of the event was even fungi-based—the designer played recordings that captured the sounds of mushrooms during their growth.
The collection featured hand-drawn toile de Jouy–like mushroom print as well as jumpsuits, dresses with drastic cut-outs resembling swimsuits, bright color schemes accented with bold cuts and fringe.
“It’s been such a period of transition, and I wanted to project what the future could be like for the house of Stella: a lightness of touch, a slightly more tender approach, still mixing these sporty pieces and the masculine,” said McCartney.
Celebrities in attendance included Demi Moore and her daughter Scout Willis, Paris Jackson, Isabelle Huppert, and Sir Paul McCartney surprised his daughter backstage.
For Jackson, 23, the show made a statement about the state of the world—and one of the key ways we can help to save it. She applauded McCartney’s sustainability commitments and showcasing how mushrooms can play a part in that.
“It’s less about the trippy stuff and more about saving the planet, which is so powerful,” Jackson said. said.
Mushroom leather is a bit more complicated than it sounds. It involves the root structure of mushrooms—the mycelium—to grow and perform like conventional leather products. It has the potential to drastically displace animal-based leather and some alternatives like vinyl with something far more sustainable.
Hermès used it in a prototype earlier this year for its popular Victoria travel bag. Adidas, a frequent partner to McCartney, has also begun working with the leather alternative.
Former Hermès CEO Patrick Thomas joined the board of directors for San Francisco-based mushroom producer MycoWorks earlier this year.
McCartney says she’s only able to produce 100 of the new sustainable mushroom bags at present—and they will be higher priced than most conventional leather items for the time being. “But it’s not killing any animals; it’s not cutting down any trees. It’s the future of fashion if you can get it right, and I think we can,” she said. “It’s the beginning of something new.”