Stella McCartney

Michelle Labrague

Designer Biography

DOI: 10.5040/9781474260428-FPA108

English fashion designer Stella Nina McCartney was born in 1971. Her parents were former Beatle, Paul McCartney, and American animal rights activist, photographer, and musician Linda McCartney. McCartney is known for her easy-to-wear luxury; a mix of smart tailoring and slouch, incorporating ethical production and materials. She refuses to use fur, leather, or other animal byproducts in her lines. This “style with a conscience” approach was best articulated by McCartney herself at a Natural Resources Defense Council awards ceremony: “I don’t want people to buy my stuff because they know it’s not leather, I just want them to want the boots.”

According to her father, McCartney designed her first jacket at the age of twelve: it was “black ultrasuede with a salmon pink lining. That’s pretty cool, for a young girl. It soon became clear that she was gonna become a designer.” McCartney interned at Lacroix at the age of fifteen, then studied with her father’s Savile Row tailor, Edward Sexton, while studying at Central Saint Martin’s School of Art and Design in London. Her graduation show, in the spring of 1995, was modeled by friends Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss to music created by her father for the show. The collection garnered immediate attention, including buys from upscale New York department store Bergdorf Goodman.

Just two collections after her graduation show, the 25-year-old was appointed Chloé’s creative director, to fill the post vacated by Karl Lagerfeld. Four years later, in 2001, McCartney launched her own fashion house, Stella McCartney—a 50/50 joint venture with Kering (formerly PPR). There are currently twenty-five stores under the Stella McCartney name and the brand is sold in over 600 specialty shops around the world. McCartney designs twelve lines a year and the company’s offerings include women’s ready-to-wear, accessories, lingerie, eyewear, fragrance, and children’s wear.

Collaborations with other companies have included the lucrative launch of her collection for H&M in 2003, and in September 2004, a long-term partnership with sportswear company Adidas, “Adidas by Stella McCartney.” Her work on athletic clothing expanded when she was appointed to design the sports kit for Team GB during the Olympic and Paralympic Games of summer 2012. This appointment marked the first time a fashion designer had been enlisted to design apparel for a national team across all competitions. She has also designed costumes for film, including 2004’s Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.

McCartney credits her ethical concerns to her upbringing as a vegetarian (a practice she still maintains) and time spent on the family’s organic farm. Her awards are numerous, including, most recently, the Order of the British Empire (OBE); award for excellence and service in the fashion industry; H&M and Elle Conscious award (Sweden); and Designer of the Year/Brand of the Year, British Fashion Council. She also sponsors a scholarship at Central Saint Martin’s, awarded to designers who share her ethical viewpoint.

Stella McCartney's debut collection for Chloe, S/S 1998 Photograph by Niall McInerney, Fashion Photography Archive

References and Further Reading

AFP News Agency. “Exclusive Interview with Stella McCartney and Paul McCartney.” Paris Modes with AFP, 9 March 2010. .

Find in Library Black Sandy. Eco-Chic: The Fashion Paradox . London : Black Dog, 2008.

Find in Library Black Sandy. The Sustainable Fashion Handbook . London : Thames & Hudson, 2012.

Find in Library Bergin Olivia. ““Stella McCartney Collects OBE from HM the Queen”.” The Telegraph , 26 March 2013. .

Clinton Chelsea. “Stella! Inside the Empire of Stella McCartney.” NBC News , 21 June 2013. .

Stella McCartney.” Vogue , n.d. (accessed 3 March 2015).