One of the industry’s leading female designers, Stella McCartney has turned her British take on modern femininity and tailoring into a global brand. As a lifelong vegetarian, McCartney does not use any leather or fur in her designs.
McCartney entered the fashion industry aged 16, interning at Christian Lacroix. Following Lacroix, McCartney honed her cutting skills at Edward Sexton, a world-famous Savile Row tailor. The period remains a significant influence in her work to this day, which regularly references and uses tailoring techniques in its construction.
Having attained her foundation degree from Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication, McCartney went on to study at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. A handful of McCartney’s supermodel friends walked in her 1995 graduation collection presentation, including Kate Moss , which made front-page news in the UK.
In 1997, McCartney was appointed creative director of Parisian fashion house Chloé, where her easy interpretation of the house’s codes, fluid tailoring and sense of proportion was met with both commercial and critical success.
In 2001, McCartney showed her first collection in Paris under her own name as a 50/50 joint venture partnership with Kering. McCartney is the only designer in the Kering group to have an equal share in her business. The Stella McCartney brand now operates 51 freestanding stores in locations including Manhattan, London, LA, Paris, Milan and Tokyo. Her collections are distributed in over 77 countries through 600+ wholesale accounts and shipped to 100 countries online.
McCartney is one of the industry's most vocal champions of environmental issues, and is a strong example of the commercial potential of sustainable, ethically minded businesses. “I find it interesting to link it all to food,” says McCartney. “The consumption of animals — whether you’re wearing them or eating them — is extraordinarily damaging to the planet. There are over a billion animals killed a year for food, half of which don’t even get eaten. And there’s over 50 million animals killed just for fashion. If you're mindful of how you're approaching your life, then you see the connection. You can’t avoid the connection,” she urges. “The connection between food, illness, environment. I want to see everything as a whole, so that's how I approach life, and that's how it comes into my business.”
Sustainability is now enshrined in the company’s values, embedded in its culture and reflected in the team of experts that McCartney has built. They shape the company’s sustainability policies, its underlying business model and its brand message in line with her mission.
McCartney is also a sought after collaborator. In addition a long-term partnership with adidas was introduced in September 2004. adidas by Stella McCartney has since successfully grown to include several athletic disciplines including running, gym, yoga, tennis, swimming, winter sports and cycling. In September 2010, adidas appointed McCartney Team GB’s creative director for the 2012 Olympics – the first time in the history of the games that a leading fashion designer has designed the apparel for a country’s team across all competitions, for both the Olympic and the Paralympic Games. McCartney will return as the Team GB creative director for Rio’s 2016 Olympics.
McCartney launched her first fragrance Stella in 2003. The designer has since released a new fragrance, POP aimed at younger girls and a new generation.
McCartney is married to publisher Alasdhair Willis; the couple has four children