Eco-fashion, sustainability leader Stella McCartney is styled by Hannah Cole in ‘The Fashion Revolution’, lensed by Matthew Sprout for Porter Edit June 21, 2019.
Emma Sells meets the woman on a mission, and we must listen up. Unlike designers finally taking notice of the almost unbearable toll that the fashion industry is putting on our planet, Stella McCartney has been all-in for Gaia from day one of her fashion career.
Now 47, McCartney no longer wants to be the only sustainability activist on the stage. She wants you up and out of that comfortable hear-no-evil, see-no-evil mental sofa you live in and on stage with her. McCartney and her team are experts on topics people like me are just now Googling. What do I know about the biodiversity of the soil cotton is grown in!
In fact, writes Sells, Stella McCartney and her team aren’t mere ‘designers’. McCartney is actually a creative, a scientist, a tech entrepreneur and a farmer all rolled into one. “It’s fascinating because I grew up on an organic farm and now what I do for a living really is farming,” she says. “And I think that that’s something that people don’t really realize – that in fashion design, we’re actually just farming the land, but instead of making a veggie patty out of it, we’re making a jacket. That connection is something that I find really inspiring and challenging. It just drives me.”
The daughter of Sir Paul and (deceased) Linda McCartney, Stella wasn’t a spoiled rich kid. Her frugal allowance ignited a keen interest in vintage clothes and buying everything from fashion to furniture second-hand. This life-long training positions her now to become a trusted guide for women finally taking up the sustainable cause.
To sum up the relationship between Stella McCartney and her clients, Stella won’t screw them on the subject of sustainability — my words, not Stella’s. Not only does McCartney have the trust of her clients on all matters green; she has the trust of an entire industry.
Add to her green cred the reality that Stella McCartney makes “truly brilliant, desirable clothes” say Sells. As a reminder, when Stella was appointed Creative Director at Chloé in 1997, she was deemed too safe. Then women began voting with their credit cards and whoosh — suddenly Stella McCartney struck oil.
Two decade later, the mother of four with husband designer Alasdhair Willis found herself dressing Meghan Markle in one of two major dresses for her wedding day nuptials to Prince Harry. McCartney designed Markle’s gorgeous reception dress — the perfect one for that baby blue Jaguar convertible.
Markle herself has a long-standing commitment to sustainability in her clothes choices, and she shares Stella’s activism. Note that the Duchess does enjoy roast check on the weekend.
McCartney has always exhibited tremendous patience on the topic of sustainability, and she returns to a familiar theme with Sells.
“When I was younger, being a vegetarian and an animal activist was a very delicate subject matter and it was always met with a lot of defensiveness or quite a bit of aggression,” she explains. “It was never an open-hearted conversation that you could have with people, so I had to be mindful of how you could plant a seed of change in people who maybe didn’t have that upbringing or the same point of view. It’s never been my way to tell people off and make them feel bad, because I think it’s an overwhelming and daunting conversation. So I try to give information that’s honest but not too terrifying.”
The designer’s relationship with Net-a-Porter became even more solid with the online retailer’s launch of Net Sustain, where Stella is definitely an anchor in the new venture.