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Stella McCartney Makes It All Look Easy

April 28, 2020

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But living her life is not exactly a walk in the park. Even though she’s the daughter of Sir Paul McCartney of Beatle’s fame, who is reportedly a billionaire, she’s had her share of speed bumps along the way. The 48-year-old British fashion designer who is married to Alasdhair Willis – the former publisher of Wallpaper and a creative guru himself, has four active children and a company that spans the globe. She’s got a lot on her plate, as they say.

McCartney and her daughter – Photo courtesy of Vogue, January 2020

McCartney is very much a hands-on mother: five days a week she wakes up at 6:30 am to take her daughters Bailey, 13 and Reiley, 9 plus her sons Miller, 14 and Beckett, 11 to school – according to an article in Vogue, 1/20 written by the wordsmith Hamish Bowles. Or as she says, “When you’ve got a job and kids, that’s when you get to see them. Later in the day, I try to get back for the bookending of being a mother.”

ON WEEKENDS SHE SPENDS MORE TIME with her brood at an estate in the wilds of north Gloucestershire that is the result of a house hunt born, as she explains, of a “desperate mission to find land so that I could ride my horse.” Over the past 15 years the manor house and garden have been transformed. “We planted a million trees,” McCartney told Vogue in 2010, “made another Eden.”

HER INTEREST IN FASHION STARTED AT AGE 13 when she began to make her own clothes. Three years later she had an internship with designer Christian Lacroix. Then she earned a degree in fashion design at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London. This school is famous for turning out fashion superstars such as the late Alexander McQueen.

SHE IS RENOWNED FOR HER SHARP, SIMPLE TAILORING with a feminine edge. “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 to do, but it’s fun.” McCartney is a staunch supporter of animal rights – she refuses to use leather or fur in any of her designs. Her shoes are made of vinyl or plastic; all belts and bags are made from raffia (a palm tree native to tropical Africa) and fabric. Her company currently has 48 freestanding stores situated in New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Milan, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

HER LOVE OF THE GREAT OUTDOORS IS REFLECTED in her state-of-the-sustainable-arts London flagship store – which she designed herself, with a soundtrack that includes a three-hour loop of her father, Paul’s demo tapes. “The audio is important to me because it’s such a big part of my upbringing,” she says. McCartney takes Bowles up the “Stellavator” to the floor where she fitted the Duchess of Sussex for the glamorous halter-neck dress she wore for the wedding reception following her marriage to Prince Harry. (Personally, I thought that dress was absolutely spectacular.)

SHE WAS APPOINTED CREATIVE DIRECTOR OF CHLOÉ in 1997 and struggled with the perception that at 26 she was too young and unqualified for the job. (One of the speed bumps I mentioned upfront.) “The Beatles wrote Sgt. Pepper when they were 26,” she told Vogue tartly. Despite what she refers to as “a lot of resistance,” McCartney turned the CHLOÉ gig (which lasted through the launch of her self-titled brand in 2001) into a triumph, tripling sales.

MCCARTNEY HAS FAR MORE AMBITIOUS GOALS FOR expanding her global reach. Last year, she bought back full ownership of her label – after 17 years. Every aspect of the future looks very bright for this extremely talented and savvy fashion designer.

Shaun Nelson-Henrick


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