Mulling buyback, Stella McCartney unveils deconstructed suits

PARIS (Reuters) - Stella McCartney turned classic suits inside out for her latest collection, presented on Monday as the British designer considers whether to part ways with French partner and luxury goods group Kering in the coming weeks.

McCartney, known for her understated designs and commitment not to use fur or leather, has an option until March 31 to buy back the 50 percent of her label owned by Kering, according to the terms of their joint venture.

McCartney said she was examining a possible purchase but that nothing was set.

“I have an opportunity to buy 50 percent that Kering have of the Stella McCartney house, it’s an option that I have that I’m looking at, but it’s not defined and it’s not something I can talk about right now,” McCartney said after the show at Paris’ sumptious Opera Garnier.

Kering has confirmed holding talks about its Stella McCartney stake but dismissed reports of a split in the works as speculative, saying the two regularly discussed their partnership.

The conglomerate, controlled by its founding Pinault family and run by scion Francois-Henri Pinault, has had a 50/50 joint venture with the British label since 2001.

After March 31, McCartney has the right to sell her stake, according to company filings.

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The label’s latest runway show - the first to mix men and women’s clothing - featured an edgy take on suits, with waistcoasts revealing a bare back, layered shorts over trousers cut from the same cloth, and linings worn as sleeves.

“The inside of things sometimes has a more sensual relationship with the wearer,” McCartney said of the looks, adding she had mixed pieces from men and women’s wardrobes.

“The linings have so much character to them, you never seen them and they’re always so incredible,” the designer, who partly trained with a Savile Row tailor, added.

Looks for next winter included knitwear, such as a chunky striped poncho with layers of different yarns, and dresses in stretchy velour etched with prints from 20th century British artist J.H. Lynch, known for his paintings of sultry women.

The brand does not publish earnings. Kering’s latest financial report said revenue growth at Stella McCartney - a much smaller contributor to its sales than Italy’s Gucci and French label Saint Laurent - was buoyant but had slowed in 2017 compared to previous years.

Reporting by Sarah White; Editing by Tom Balmforth