Fashion designer Stella McCartney has been made a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list, with this year’s recipients said to reflect the monarch’s “invaluable” qualities ahead of her Platinum Jubilee.
McCartney, 50, has received the honour for her services to fashion and sustainability – and in over 20 years in the fashion industry, she has led the charge for eco-friendly fashion.
She might have a famous last name – she’s the daughter of former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney and his late wife, photographer Linda – but McCartney has very much managed to forge her own path in the world.
McCartney studied at the prestigious Central Saint Martins college in London, making waves with her final year show – which had friends Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell and Yasmin Le Bon modelling her clothes.
In 1997 she became the creative director of luxury French fashion house Chloe, then moving on to launch her eponymous label in 2001. Unlike many designers at the time, from the outset McCartney refused to use animal products in her clothes, shoes and bags – blazing a trail others would follow.
She continues to make eco-conscious fashion the core of her business, testing out new innovations such as ‘leather’ made from mycelium (the root-like structures of fungi).
For the 2021 Cop26 summit, McCartney staged an exhibition about the future of fashion. She said in a speech: “I want to highlight my industry and call it out, we’re one of the most harmful industries in the world to the environment and what I’m doing here is trying to provide sustainable solutions and technologies and a better way of doing things.”
She’s become particularly well-known for her ongoing collaboration with Adidas – with whom she helped design Team GB’s kit for the 2012 Olympic Games, while also designing the first vegan pair of Stan Smith trainers.
When dressing celebrities on the red carpet, McCartney’s aesthetic is all about simple elegance and drama. She rarely dabbles in busy prints, preferring to create outfits in bold, block colours. She leans into strong tailoring and silhouettes – you’ll often see celebs walking the red carpet in structured dresses with dramatic twists, like elegant capes or asymmetric necklines.
For her everyday looks, McCartney has a lot more fun with colour and print, and is constantly setting trends. Just think of her Elyse sneakers – mega platform trainers, often with stars on the main body of the faux leather shoe. In the early 2010s they were everywhere – and because McCartney’s designs come with a hefty price tag, they were often copied on the high street.
And for her collaborations with Adidas, McCartney focuses on injecting a bit of luxury into sportswear. She gives classic sportswear silhouettes a high fashion twist, creating looks that are perfect for both the gym and your day-to-day life.
Her most famous celebrity looks…
McCartney was responsible for the sleek white halterneck dress the Duchess of Sussex changed into for the evening reception of her wedding.
She’s also no stranger to dressing heavy-hitters on the red carpet – such as Reese Witherspoon, who wore her plunging purple gown to the 2015 Bafta Awards…
… And Jodie Comer, who shone in a jewel-tone one-shouldered gown at the 2019 Bafta TV Awards.
McCartney regularly dresses celebrities at the Met Gala, and one of her most memorable creations is undoubtedly the sleek white two-piece Rihanna wore in 2014.
She also teams up with celebrities who share her environmental values, such as Joaquin Phoenix – who wore the same Stella McCartney suit for every major red carpet event during the 2020 awards season.
McCartney posted about it on Twitter, writing: “This man is a winner… wearing custom Stella because he chooses to make choices for the future of the planet. He has also chosen to wear this same Tux for the entire award season to reduce waste. I am proud to join forces with you… x Stella.”
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