Stella McCartney takes full control of her namesake brand and opens a new boutique at Wynn Las Vegas.
Stella McCartney at her Winter 2018 show in Paris
Stella McCartney is the kind of woman other women can't help but love and aspire to be, or simply be around. She’s kind and talented, not to mention gorgeous and funny in the most self-deprecating way—a girls’ girl to the end. So imagine the collective delight of women everywhere when, earlier this year, she announced she would take full control of her label. In the history-making move, she would buy the 50 percent stake of her company owned by fashion conglomerate Kering, with which she’d launched the brand 17 years ago. It is the opportunity, she says, to own her name and solidify her legacy.
You have only to look at her new store opening on the ground floor of Wynn Plaza this fall to understand how personal her legacy in fact is. The Stella McCartney boutique draws inspiration from her own archive of images, and moves away from traditional luxury materials and toward organic and sustainably sourced elements. Ceramics, brass and reclaimed wood lend the boutique a warmth much like her own. As it was under construction with the other stores in Wynn Plaza, we sat down with McCartney to talk about taking risks, taking over and making statements through fashion.
The bride wore Stella.
Talk about winning the trifecta: Not only did you create that stunning halter-neck gown for the new Duchess of Sussex, you also dressed wedding guests Amal Clooney and Oprah, America’s queen! What was that like?
As a designer and a woman who has been married, I feel it was such a big deal to be entrusted with that moment, so it means a lot to me and I am very protective of it. With Amal and Oprah, it was a privilege as well to have them come to me and ask me to dress them, and I thought it was great that they wanted a British designer, and a female one at that, to dress them for the occasion. It’s always a collaboration, a joint effort when you’re working with women of that magnitude. I am a huge fan of both of them, and as long as they were happy I am happy, but still I was surprised and thrilled by the response.
It is well known that your father is Paul McCartney and your mother was Linda Eastman, an American photographer and musician. How did your parents inspire you?
Growing up, they always taught us to stand up for the things that we believe in, to be true to ourselves. From an early age it was ingrained in me to respect our fellow creatures and be mindful in my approach to life. This was their way of life. It inspired me; my parents are a big inspiration to me on every level. So when I started in fashion, it was a no-brainer for me to take that approach into the way I conduct myself in business.
Multicolored textured stiched cape, $5,380, Jamie soft corduroy trousers in Sugar Cane, $825, and heeled loafers in Camel Snake, $895
How did you first get interested in fashion?
My first memories of fashion come from my mum. I’ve always been inspired by her. Really, it was more just the kind of person that she was. There was an ease to how she dressed, and she had an inner confidence. She was really ahead of her time. She didn’t care too much, and she had a subtle sense of humor too. My dad too had me interested in music, of course, but also fashion. And he’s inspired the menswear.
In 2001, you started your own label and, in so doing, you also made a decision to be a fur-free and leather-free company. You were raised vegetarian, so it made perfect sense to you, but in terms of business, did it feel like a risky move at the time?
From the beginning I was told that I could not create an accessories brand; it would not be successful as people associate leather with luxury. I wanted to approach things in a different way. It was unheard of to be in fashion and to not use leather, not use fur, not use PVC. And we’re still the only luxury house providing this product and proving it’s doable without sacrificing design. Really I think it’s one of the most game-changing things we’ve done in the fashion industry. But since then, we continue to look at new ways of being better and to better our practice. I am constantly working on changing things that are conventional in this industry, which is what is exciting to me. Lately we’ve been working a lot with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to promote a circular economy. We want to look at the fabrics we waste. Another partner is Bolt Threads, who we’ve collaborated with on alternative fabrics—a vegan silk and Mylo to serve as a substitute for leather.
Faux sherling jacket in Sugar Cane, $2,195, and tiled Lynch print dress, $1,235
Recently, Michael Kors, Gucci and Versace all announced they were going fur-free. What do you think that says about the state of the fashion industry?
More and more people are becoming aware of the ways they consume in other aspects of life, so why shouldn’t fashion come into that conversation too? We found the right kind of fake fur we wanted to work with and even created fur-free fur labels to further state the point; you can’t tell the difference in the way that it looks and how it feels. It’s nice to see more people come to my side, my way of thinking. I hope we will all be more mindful of our consumption and to question the processes.
Earlier this year, you announced you were taking full control of your company from Kering, the European luxury fashion conglomerate. You launched as 50/50 partners. Why now?
Owning my name changes my mindset. It is about the legacy and the long term. As my grandfather always told me, it is all about staying power.
In May you were given the Humanitarian Award at a fundraising lunch for the David Lynch Foundation. The money raised at this event goes toward teaching transcendental meditation to survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault.
Essentially, I was born into meditation, and when my mother passed away 20 years ago, it was the time to get back into it. Being honored by the David Lynch Foundation was really crazy and such an honor. With that event, the most important part was that it benefited women and children who are victims of sexual assault, which is so pervasive in today’s climate. I wished we could get all the horrible men in the world to meditate.
Tiffany bordeaux silk georgette dress, $2,195
In 2013 you were named an OBE, an Officer of the Order of the British Empire, in recognition of your contributions to fashion, which brought you face-to-face with the Queen of England. How did that conversation go?
She said to me, ‘You seem very busy.’ Of everything I was trying to prepare myself that the queen might say, that wasn’t something I expected. I just said back to her, ‘Well, not quite as busy as you, Ma’am.’