Esquire Interviews: Stella McCartney

Her clothes are a favourite with cool girls the world over. Now she’s designing for dudes, too.

BY John von Sothen | Sep 18, 2017 | Fashion

Most celebrity interviews fit a certain template. They are polite. Guarded. Brief. Perfunctory.

Stella McCartney’s having none of that shit.

Before I even start recording, she’s snuggled on a banquette, flipping through a lookbook of her latest collection. For the next 45 minutes, we sit and point and laugh and talk while the pages turn. It doesn’t feel like an interview—more like two teenagers checking out album covers.

Stella wouldn’t have it any other way. Her Beatle dad and photographer mum taught her that McCartneys shine when they’re at their most natural. And she has a lot to say. Her first fall menswear collection is about to drop, her second outing after a spring debut last year.

Her previous output was almost exclusively for women: she was the creative director at French fashion house Chloé and, in 2001, started her eponymous line, which caters to a sexy, sporty, eco-conscious customer—the kind of woman who wants the latest It bag, but demands it in vegan leather.

Her new collection—full of Savile Row–inspired tailoring and rock ’n’ roll accents—should attract that customer’s male counterpart. We start talking about the clothes and the inspiration, much of which came from Dad’s closets, Mum’s photos, and her own memories of both of them while growing up. And that’s when I grasp why courage and creativity go hand in hand for her. The truly fearless, she’s learned, are the ones willing to strike out and be themselves. Even if their dad is a Beatle.

Esquire: This collection feels very nostalgic. Are you channelling your dad?

Stella McCartney: My dad’s wardrobe is definitely part of this, but it’s also about an attitude. I really appreciate the way my parents wore clothes for other people, but more for themselves. My collection is a homage to them in a
way—injecting a bit of fearlessness into things.

Esquire: Do you call him up and ask, “Dad, what were you wearing when. . .”? 

Stella McCartney: Luckily, my heritage is well documented. I just have to Google him, and I have access to his archive of clothes. And my mother was a photographer, so I have a lot of amazing personal stuff that nobody’s seen. But this collection has many influences.

Esquire: Like what else?

Stella McCartney: I studied on Savile Row for years, so a lot of the collection was inspired by British tailoring—we’re working with familiar fabrics but trying to make them unfamiliar in a sense. And music is a big part of it. There are generations of music in this collection.

Esquire: Does it intersect with your women’s line?

Stella McCartney: I plucked out some of the things we do in women’s wear and introduced them into the men’s arena. I don’t see a massive difference between what men and women want out of their wardrobe.

Esquire: And there’s no animal skin here, right?

Stella McCartney: There’s nothing made with leather. We’re a modern-day house that doesn’t sacrifice luxury and style just because we’ve replaced medieval materials.

Esquire: What do you hope to give guys with these clothes?

Stella McCartney: The men on my inspiration boards, they’re punchy. They stand out. I ask myself: Why were these guys able to wear those clothes then? Why did my dad wear a silk blouse? When did men lose that? I want to give men brilliant tailoring, but at the same time I’ll give them something with a sense of humour, or something ridiculous, and that works! That’s our approach to men’s wear—not to be conventional.

This article was first published in the print edition of Esquire Malaysia, September 2017.