United States • London
13 September 1971
Stella McCartney is a British fashion designer best known for her eponymous label. Born on 13 September 1971 in Lambeth, London, England, to former Beatle Paul McCartney and musician, photographer and animal rights activist Linda McCartney, she spent her formative years travelling the world with her parents who, at the time, were both in the band Wings.
Despite their fame, the McCartneys wanted their children to lead as normal a life as possible, so Stella and her siblings attended local state schools in East Sussex, one of them being Bexhill College. McCartney has said that while attending state school, she was a victim of bullying, as well as being a bully herself.
Stella with Paul McCartney
Her interest in fashion started at an early age and by 13 she had begun to make her own clothes. Three years later she undertook an internship with Christian Lacroix, after which she completed an art foundation at Ravensbourne College and then a degree in fashion design at Central Saints Martins.
McCartney graduated from Central Saint Martins in 1995, with her friends Kate Moss, Yasmin Le Bon and Naomi Campbell modelling for her final year show. The entire collection was purchased by London boutique Tokio and also stocked in Browns, Joseph, Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus. After graduating, she shadowed Savile Row tailor Edward Sexton to learn more about the craft.
In 1997 she was appointed creative director of Parisian fashion house Chloe, succeeding Karl Lagerfeld in the role. She was assisted by Phoebe Philo, who later replaced her when she left the house.
In April 2001 it was confirmed that the Gucci Group (now the PPR Luxury Group) had teamed up with Stella McCartney to develop her own label as a global luxury brand. “In Gucci Group, I have found a partner with the skills necessary to make this business a success. I have always wanted to start my own label and I feel ready for the challenge,” said Stella in a statement.
She showed her debut collection at Paris Fashion Week in October of the same year with Jude Law, Sadie Frost, Damien Hirst, Chrissie Hynde and her father, Sir Paul McCartney in the audience. The collection included the now famous T-shirt with “Bristols” emblazoned across the breasts.
McCartney was presented with an honorary degree by the University of Dundee in March 2003. “We have a very strong school of art and design and we felt it was appropriate to honour Stella for her immense contribution to fashion,” said a spokeswoman for the university. “We picked her over any other young British designer because so many of our students feel an affiliation with her. She is young and outgoing and has really made a mark on fashion. While her clothes are classy and attractive, they are still bold and she has a style all her own.”
In August 2003, McCartney married Alasdhair Willis on the Isle of Bute wearing a self-designed dress inspired by the one her mother had worn to her own wedding in 1969. In the same year she launched her first perfume, entitled Stella.
In 2004, she designed clothes for Madonna’s Re-Invention tour, Annie Lennox’s summer tour, and Gwyneth Paltrow and Jude Law’s costumes for the film Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.
She launched a joint-venture line with Adidas, establishing a long-term partnership with the corporation, in September 2004. The collection, called simply Adidas by Stella McCartney, has since grown to include a wide range of different sportswear including yoga, tennis, winter sports and golf.
Stella McCartney for Adidas
It was announced in May 2005 that McCartney would design a range for high street fashion giant H&M. The 40-piece collection was launched the following November and sold out immediately. “We are thrilled to collaborate with Stella McCartney,” H&M’s head of design, Margareta van den Bosch, said at the time. “Her designs are modern and cool yet classic and wearable. We have long admired her sense of tailoring and femininity.”
In 2007 she undertook another high street collaboration, this time with Australian budget store Target. She cited her late mother Linda as her inspiration for the collection: “Mum was a big style icon for me, her natural sexiness and natural confidence,” she told Sydney’s Daily Telegraph. “I wanted the collection for Target to reinterpret all the must-haves of Stella McCartney for winter and to make my designs more accessible to a wider audience in Australia.”
Stella McCartney for Target
She was awarded the title of Designer of the Year at the British Style Awards in November 2007.“My team really deserve this,” she said upon her acceptance. “I couldn’t possibly manage with three children under the age of three without them.” Other awards she has received include being named Glamour’s Woman of the Year in 2009 and the British Fashion Council’s Red Carpet Award in 2011. She was also named in the TIME 100 – a list of the 100 most influential people in the world.
In January 2007, McCartney launched a 100% organic skincare line called CARE. The following year she launched a successful lingerie line.
Following in the footsteps of her mother Linda, she is a staunch supporter of animal rights and a strict vegetarian – she refuses to use leather or fur in any of her designs. Instead, her shoes are made of vinyl or plastic and all belts and bags are made from raffia and fabric. She has spoken many times about her support of animal rights. “People in fashion just don’t want to hear the messages,” she told the Guardian in 2009. “I find it astounding, because fashion is supposed to be all about change – I mean, we’re supposed to be at the cutting edge! I can only think that they don’t care as much as people in other industries. So, yes, I think people in fashion are pretty heartless.”
In October 2009, McCartney launched her first childrenswear collection for Gap Kids. “I think this collection has a mix of the playful and practical,” McCartney told us. “It’s a reflection of my brand, there are pieces that are classic and very sort of timeless and hopefully very chic, and then there are pieces that are the kind you chuck in the washing machine and they get better with time and, you know, they are funny and hopefully a little bit cool.” She launched her second collection for Gap Kids in February 2011.
As a result of her long-running relationship with Adidas, McCartney was appointed creative director of the sportswear brand’s 2012 Olympic Team GB ranges in July 2010, tasked with the job of creating the label’s athlete kit for both the national Olympic and Paralympic teams. “As a British fashion designer it is an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be creative director of Team GB as the hosting nation of the London 2012 Olympic Games,” McCartney said. The appointment was the first time a high-end designer had designed sportswear for the Olympic Games.
Sportswear for the Olympic Games
She was included in the Telegraph’s list of the most powerful women in Britain in 2011, alongside fellow contemporaries Phoebe Philo, Anya Hindmarch and Vivienne Westwood and British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman.
She is renowned for her sharp, simple tailoring with a feminine edge and considerate approach to wearable design. “It’s not about what it looks like in the studio or on the runway,” she once told WWD. “It’s what it looks like on a real person that matters. That isn’t easy, but it’s what’s fun.”
As of 2012, Stella McCartney operates 23 freestanding stores in locations including Manhattan’s SoHo, London’s Mayfair, LA’s West Hollywood, Paris’ Palais Royal and Milan.
She lives between Notting Hill, London and Worcestershire with her husband Alasdhair Willis, a creative consultant, and their four children – Miller, Bailey, Beckett and Reiley.
The following awards have recognized Stella McCartney’s achievement in fashion and social awareness:
• Stella McCartney received the VH1/Vogue Designer of the Year award in 2000, New York;
• 2000 Woman of Courage Award, work against cancer, Prestigious Event (2003, Los Angeles);
• The Glamour Award for Best Designer of the Year (2004, London);
• The Star Honoree at the Fashion Group International Night of the Stars (2004, New York);
• The Organic Style Woman of the Year Award (2005, New York);
• The Elle Style Award for Best Designer of the Year Award (2007, London);
• Best Designer of The Year at the British Style Awards (2007, London);
• Best Designer of The Year at the Spanish Elle Awards (2008, Barcelona);
• The Green Designer of the Year at the ACE Awards (2008, New York);
• In 2009 she was honoured by the NRDC;
• In the Time 100 and recognized as a Glamour magazine Woman of the Year (2009);
• In November 2011 she was presented with the Red Carpet Award by the British Fashion Council;
• The Designer of the Year at the British Fashion Award (2012, London);
• The Designer Brand of the Year 2012 at the British Fashion Award (London).
Text Courtesy: Vogue.co.uk, Wikipedia.org, BritishFashionAwards.com
Below Stella McCartney Collection