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Introducing Stella McCartney

Model-turned-film-maker Mr Vincent LaCrocq showcases the designer’s debut menswear line

If you were to map out the typical trajectory of a successful 21st-century male model, it might look something like this… Step one: be born genetically blessed (note: this is an important step). Step two: take up a cool hobby. Step three: while indulging in said hobby, get spotted by a zeitgeist-chasing photographer-slash-creative director. Steps four, five and six: sign a contract with a global modelling agency, appear in a series of high-profile runway shows, go on to dominate the industry for years to come.

Applying this to the real world, you might conclude that Mr Vincent LaCrocq – the star of this shoot, which showcases the long-awaited debut menswear range from the British powerhouse designer Ms Stella McCartney – is about as typical as they come. Consider the evidence: born in Paris, it didn’t take long for the 33-year-old to begin to display the requisite genetic gifts of a future male model: the jawline, the eyes, the cheekbones.

Step two he accomplished at the tender age of 14, when he bought a skateboard from a second-hand store. “I think I broke it the same day I bought it,” he laughs. “But by then I was hooked.” This led him directly to step three, and a chance encounter that was to change the course of his life. It occurred in early 2001, when he was just turning 17. While hanging out in a skate shop, Mr LaCrocq was approached by – who else? – Mr Hedi Slimane, the recently appointed creative director of Dior Homme, who had spotted him skating in the streets and followed him all the way back to the shop. “He walked right up to me and asked me if I’d like to do his show,” Mr LaCrocq recalls.

The show in question was Mr Slimane’s first for Dior Homme, the fashion house where he would go on to make a name for himself as perhaps the most influential menswear designer of the decade. Mr LaCrocq didn’t feature in the final show, but black-and-white photographs taken of him at an early fitting session in January 2001 – complete with eyebrow piercing, trucker cap and wooden beaded necklace – can still be found on the Fashion Diary section of Mr Slimane’s personal website. The meeting provided him with a crucial early foothold in the fashion industry, and he went on to take full advantage of it: he was signed by Next Management in 2003 (step four), landed runway appearances for Burberry, Neil Barrett and Prada later that year (step five), and has barely been out of work since (step six).

So far, so typical, but the story doesn’t quite end there. Shortly after establishing himself as a model, Mr LaCrocq decided to step off the path, relocating to New York to pursue his passion for film-making. On the night that Hurricane Sandy came crashing into the city in October 2012, bringing with it a storm surge that flooded freeway underpasses and plunged entire neighbourhoods into darkness, a second chance encounter sent Mr LaCrocq’s life in yet another direction.

“She needed help, and I took advantage of it.” That’s how Mr LaCrocq jokingly describes the first time he crossed paths with his future wife and business partner, Ms Kristell Chenut, a fellow model and aspiring creative director. “She makes me a better person every day,” he adds. Together, they formed V/K Films – V for Vincent, K for Kristell – and have since gone on to work on video projects with brands such as Valentino, Louis Vuitton and many more.

Model, film-maker, skateboarder (he still rides bowls and ramps at Chelsea Piers in New York, Stockwell Skatepark in London, and Arcueil in Paris) and a man whose hobbies range from surfing to interior design, Mr LaCrocq was an obvious choice to model the new Stella McCartney menswear line, which was imagined with the dynamic lifestyle of the modern man in mind.

Speaking to us about the inspiration for the collection – her first foray into menswear since the launch of her eponymous brand in 2001 – Ms McCartney reels off a roll call of big names, which includes her husband, Hunter creative director Mr Alasdhair Willis, and her father, Sir Paul McCartney. But she also singles out musicians, artists and – yes – film-makers. “These are the kind of men I want to help dress,” she explains. “I want to provide a service. I do that with the womenswear; I make women feel like they can be fashionable, and yet themselves. And I want to do the same for men.”

Casting an eye over the collection, ably modelled here by Mr LaCrocq, you might reasonably wonder what on earth has taken her so long. Ms McCartney herself admits that a men’s collection is something she has been thinking about for a long time. “It finally felt like the right time to take on the challenge,” she says. “But it also felt like the right time for the Stella woman to create a relationship with the Stella man. He has been standing alongside her all along, and now is the time he has his moment.”

To that end, she has designed a fun, functional and quintessentially British collection that’s true to the codes of the house. As with Stella McCartney womenswear, it doesn’t take itself too seriously; a key piece from the collection is a blue silk shirt embroidered with swallows, apparently inspired by a shirt originally owned by her mother, Ms Linda McCartney, but regularly worn by her father. It’s also heavy on the eco-friendly, sustainable fabrics of which Ms McCartney is an outspoken advocate.

“I want to create his wardrobe and give him his voice,” she says of her hypothetical menswear customer. “He has inspired so much of what I do from day one and now feels like the right time to talk to him, ask him questions and dress all his needs.”

The collection has only just launched, so we are, as yet, unsure exactly who this “Stella man” is. It’s still early days, after all. Based on this collection, however, we think we’d like to hang out with him.