Stella McCartney grew up the daughter of former Beatle Paul McCartney and his rebel-souled American wife Linda, and it is little surprise that she has this nagging idea about changing the world, the fashion one.
Never mind the fact that she has risen to become one of the heavy-hitter designers of her generationthat her bespoke suits have become high-style staples as her willowy evening gowns routinely grace the red carpet. Or that the popularity of both these trademark looks, along with her cool-girl accessories (which have been known to cause hyperventilation in certain circles), prompted the Gucci Group in 2001 to invest a 50% stake in her company. Separate from any of her successes, really, McCartney has set out to question the way the world thinks of luxury, just as Elvis and the Beatles shook up our perception of music.
Since launching her label in 1995, McCartney has made a mission of designing collections that are environmentally awake. Her clothes and accessories, including shoes and handbags, don't contain a stitch of leather. And she abstains, vehemently, from using fur. "I look at things very differently from other designers," says the British-born McCartney, 37. "I am trying to pick up on the environment in which we live, so I have a different point of view. And then in other ways, I don't. I also believe in luxury, great quality, great clothing, what all good designers believe in."
Scaling the heights of luxuryMcCartney has price points that induce gasps, boutiques in chic districts of the world's capitals and regular clients who include Gwyneth Paltrow, Natalie Portman and Madonnawhile shunning its two favorite staples has, understandably, not been the easiest task. "People have made fun of me for yearsI'm not cool because I do vegetarian shoes," she says. "But the thing is, I'm the most f______ punk rock of all of them."
Aware, if not overjoyed, that she is still ahead of her time, McCartney slips easily into the role of rebel with a cause. "It's my job to question everything around me, every day, and push it forward, whether that be a dress or where it's made," she says. "Why, as everyone looks after their bodies, you take care of what you eat, and we're questioning everything about life on this planet, are we not questioning the fact that it's barbaric to raise an ostrich for a bag? They say it's a by-product. Well, I didn't eat lizard lately.
"There's an element that's old-fashioned and disappointing about fashion," she adds. "In my level of the industry, everyone's just living in their ivory towers, and they're not pushing and questioning themselves."
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