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Stella Nina McCartney, OBE (born 13 September 1971) is an English fashion designer. She is the daughter of former Beatles member Paul McCartney and American musician, photographer and animal rights activist Linda McCartney.
McCartney was born in Lambeth, London, the second child of Beatle Paul McCartney and American photographer Linda McCartney (1941–1998). She is named after her maternal great-grandmothers (both of Linda McCartney’s grandmothers were named Stella). As a young girl, McCartney travelled the globe with her parents and their group Wings, along with her siblings: older sister Heather (who was legally adopted by Paul McCartney), older sister Mary, and younger brother James. According to her father, the name of Wings was inspired by Stella’s difficult birth. As his daughter was being born by emergency caesarean section, Paul sat outside the operating room and prayed that she be born “on the wings of an angel.”
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.
McCartney became interested in designing clothes as a youth. At age thirteen, she designed her first jacket. Three years later, she interned for Christian Lacroix, working on her first haute couture collection, honing her skills working for Edward Sexton, her father’s Savile Row tailor for a number of years.
She studied her foundation at Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication, followed by Fashion Design at Central Saint Martins in the early 1990s: she graduated in 1995. Her graduation collection was modelled by friends and supermodels Naomi Campbell, Yasmin Le Bon and Kate Moss – for free – at the graduation runway show. The collection was shown to a song penned by her famous father, called “Stella May Day.” The show made front-page news, and the entire collection was sold to Tokyo, a London boutique. The designs were licensed to Browns, Joseph, Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus. In 1998, she designed her sister Mary’s wedding dress for her wedding to television producer Alistair Donald.
A lifelong vegetarian, McCartney does not use any leather or fur in her designs. She supports PETA. Some of McCartney’s designs have text that elaborates on her “no animal” policy; for example, one of her jackets for Adidas says, “suitable for sporty vegetarians” on the sleeve. She does use wool, silk, and other animal-derived fabrics in her designs.
In March 1997 McCartney was appointed creative director of Paris fashion house Chloé, following in the footsteps of Karl Lagerfeld. Lagerfeld was less than impressed with the house’s choice, stating, “Chloé should have taken a big name. They did, but in music, not fashion. Let’s hope she’s as gifted as her father.” Despite initial skepticism, McCartney’s designs have enjoyed considerable commercial and critical success. She was accompanied to Chloé by her assistant and friend Phoebe Philo, who later replaced her as design director.
In 2001, McCartney launched her own fashion house under her name in a joint venture with Gucci Group (now Kering) and showed her first collection in Paris. McCartney now operates 17 freestanding stores in locations including Manhattan’s Soho, London’s Mayfair, LA’s West Hollywood, Paris’ Palais Royal, Barcelona’s Passeig de Gracia and Milan, and recently opened doors in Rome, Miami and Houston. Her collections are now distributed in over 50 countries through 600 wholesale accounts including specialty shops and department stores. […]
In September 2011 Stella McCartney’s costume designs for the New York City Ballet’s Ocean’s Kingdom premiered in New York. […]
In 2012, Stella McCartney was among the British cultural icons selected by artist Sir Peter Blake to appear in a new version of his artwork – the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover – to celebrate the British cultural figures of his life that he most admires. In February 2013 she was assessed as one of the 100 most powerful women in the United Kingdom by Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4.
McCartney married British publisher Alasdhair Willis on 30 August 2003 at Mount Stuart House on the Isle of Bute. McCartney’s wedding dress was an updated version of her mother’s wedding dress from her March 1969 marriage ceremony to Paul McCartney.
Willis now works as creative director of shoewear brand Hunters. In 2015, he was named one of GQ’s 50 best dressed British men.
McCartney and Willis have four children: sons Miller Alasdhair James Willis (born 2005) and Beckett Robert Lee Willis (born 2008) and daughters Bailey Linda Olwyn Willis (born 2006) and Reiley Dilys Stella Willis (born 2010).
Stella has a younger half-sister, Beatrice Milly McCartney, born on 28 October 2003 to her father and his second wife, Heather Mills. […]
Ok, I’m going to do a Wings moment. Y’know, this is, I guess where my mom comes in. For me, musically, everything about this album I just think was so sort of genius… The fact that they did a little film, and this whole ‘Band on the Run’ thing but the cast that they had… I guess, emotionally I’m obviously very attached to it, but just as a fashion designer I look at it and I look at my mom and I think, my god, she didn’t have any makeup on, she cut her own hair… what a free spirit… Like what women in that day and age would have the balls to go on tour with their husband when it probably wasn’t the first thing on her list of things to go and do… I just think, what a woman. And then, on a musical side, I love all the songs on it but I guess they very much remind me of my childhood because they’re some of the first songs I heard over and over again as a kid. I have great respect for Wings.Stella McCartney, interviewed by Amoeba Music, 2016
Last updated on June 20, 2020
Jan 28, 1995