A “Stella” Idea

  • To celebrate the opening of the second Stella McCartney shop in Hong Kong, Joyce.com spoke with the designer about her philosophy as a designer, a mother and as a vegetarian.

    Stella McCartney is well known for her stringent animal cruelty free policy in the luxury fashion business, which is still a rarity in the leather goods obsessed fashion world. At the same time, her signature masculine meets feminine silhouette; effortless, timeless and stylish pieces, have become the modern women’s “fail-safe” wardrobe staples.

    “I’ve been a vegetarian for all my life. I believe in it both ethically and environmentally. It’s not sustainable for the population of the planet to keep eating meat, and it’s not an efficient utilisation of our resources. However, there’s no reason to compromise on style and luxury. A lady just said to me, ‘How is this not crocodile? I don’t understand!’ For me, I find it so exciting and modern in developing new materials, finding new ways of looking at the challenge and I truly believe this is the way forward. Every year there are 50 million animals killed in the name of fashion. I just want to bring my beliefs into my business.”

    One of the classic and beloved items from her eponymous label is the “Falabella” bag — a supple mock- leather bag with chain details. It’s practical, simple and chic, perfect for modern working women who are like Stella herself. Apart from the simulated real leather for the autumn winter collection, McCartney and her team have developed a biodegradable rubber sole for the statement wedge shoes. The sculptural like shape and form give an attitude to both the look and the atmosphere of the collection, and these feelings counter balance the very British pin striped boxy coats, the punched hole tartan jacket and the delicate laced knitwear also on show. She continues,

    “The main part of my job is to design beautiful, desirable luxury pieces, the other
    (the environmental and ethical) side should
    come along with it but should not drive
    the creative process.”

    It is a worthy achievement to start a business with such a radical and altruistic approach, and to manage to slowly grow her empire from ready-to-wear to sportswear in collaboration with Adidas, to lingerie, beauty and fragrance products and even children’s wear, all using the same design philosophy. McCartney looking back and says,

    “I think I was privately ridiculed for my philosophy within the industry but I didn’t pay much attention. I really believe in staying true to yourself. We have a healthy business and I hope we can inspire other people in fashion too. OK, fashion is based on making money, as the world is, but if you can be successful and not just to use to same materials all the time, which I find very old fashion, to me that’s real luxury.”

    As a mother of four it is no surprise that she understands women’s needs as well as children’s needs.

    “My starting point for all my collections has always been about feeling good then you perform better, be it sportswear or ready-to-wear. For children’s’ wear, I don’t want to design like other brands who take children’s wear too seriously —too prim and proper. My children are aged from 8 to 2, and even the youngest already tells me what she wants to wear! It’s important to let them choose, not to dictate them.”

    The new shop design echoes with her collections. The interior design of the ready-to-wear section consists of a grand marble floor, slick glass box façade and brass rails to display the clothes, while the children’s section is decorated with eye popping colour, creating an inviting and fun atmosphere for the “mini me” of the adult clientele.

    Hong Kong was the last stop of Stella’s whirlwind Asia tour. It’s hard to believe how she can remain so upbeat and effortlessly stylish in amongst juggling a family of four and managing an international business. She replies humbly.

    “I’m lucky to have children and a job that I love. I cannot do it without a great team. My team at work allows me to spend time with my family; my team at home — my husband, allows me to come to Hong Kong and do my work! “

    Interview by Lucienne Leung-Davies