STELLA MccART­NEY

Harper's Bazaar (India) - - BAZAAR FASHION -

I wanted to talk to you about fam­ily and cre­ativ­ity. Do you feel like you’re the de­signer that you are be­cause you in­her­ited some­thing? Or is it be­cause you grew up in a cer­tain en­vi­ron­ment with cre­ative par­ents?

It’s an in­ter­est­ing ques­tion, and one I thought about a lot when I was grow­ing up. I think that one can’t help but be steered and nav­i­gated in ways; it’s just kind of what you know. I also think that part of it is DNA. For in­stance, I don’t do mu­sic, but I see a tal­ent for it in my sib­lings and even in my own chil­dren, and my fa­ther’s fa­ther was in a band. But you do ac­quire a lot from your sur­round­ings as a child—and you are a very good ex­am­ple of that. Most peo­ple stick to what they know from their up­bring­ing in their ca­reer, and I re­ally ad­mire peo­ple who go in a com­pletely dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion.

I tried to do that. I worked in the pri­vate sec­tor for years and tried very hard to care about things that were dif­fer­ent from what my par­ents cared about. But as you said, I just couldn’t be­cause of the en­vi­ron­ment in which I grew up and the ex­am­ples that my par­ents set for me.

I of­ten ques­tion why I didn’t rebel more. Why didn’t I try to do stuff that was re­ally shock­ing? But if you have re­spect for your par­ents, then it is quite hard. I think that my slight re­bel­lion was go­ing into fash­ion and not mu­sic or pho­tog­ra­phy or some­thing di­rectly re­lated to what my par­ents did.

Mine was to de­clare that I was a veg­e­tar­ian. It’s kind of sad to say that that was my ma­jor act of re­bel­lion.

It is ac­tu­ally quite re­bel­lious be­cause the tra­di­tions of eat­ing meat are huge, and there is such pres­sure on all lev­els to do so. But your dad now has taken it a step fur­ther by turn­ing ve­gan, so I guess he is the real rebel.

Do you re­mem­ber when you first be­came aware of fash­ion?

I was brought up in a way that was based purely on the senses. Ev­ery­thing in my up­bring­ing was a re­ac­tion to grow­ing up on an or­ganic farm or to the emo­tions of an­i­mal cru­elty, as well as the vi­su­als of my mum’s and my fa­ther’s art—he was also an art col­lec­tor. I would watch films. And then there was ob­vi­ously mu­sic in the house 24/7. Th­ese sen­sory ex­pe­ri­ences had such an im­pact on me. My eyes were open. I would also go into my par­ents’ wardrobe. I was so aware of the stage clothes ver­sus the every­day-life clothes, and the ex­treme­ness of the stage clothes that my par­ents had de­signed. Even com­ing across my dad’s old Bea­tles suits from Sav­ile Row and the his­tory at­tached to them—the mas­culin­ity and simplicity com­pared to the ’70s glitz and glam­our of Wings. I was so vis­ually ex­cited by it all. So the more I think about it, the younger I think I first be­came aware of my in­ter­est in fash­ion.

Do you re­mem­ber hav­ing con­ver­sa­tions with your par­ents about fash­ion in the same way I had con­ver­sa­tions with mine about health­care around the break­fast ta­ble?

My par­ents were pretty un­in­ter­ested in fash­ion; it just was part of what they did. I think that’s why I was so vis­ually in­spired by them—be­cause their fash­ion sense was not strate­gic or over­thought. It came nat­u­rally, the whole mix be­tween old and new and glam­orous and time­less. My mum was no­to­ri­ous for not wear­ing makeup. We never re­ally talked about fash­ion in par­tic­u­lar—we talked about health­care too.

Do you feel like that en­abled you to de­velop your own cre­ative sen­si­bil­ity? In some ways, maybe it was an ad­van­tage.

I think the fact that my par­ents weren’t con­ven­tional— es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing their po­si­tion—had a big in­flu­ence on the way that I con­duct my­self now in de­sign and business. It had a huge im­pact on my want­ing to do some­thing a bit more than just de­sign­ing a pretty dress and putting it on a run­way and mak­ing it glam­orous.

I re­ally ad­mire how both your clothes and your company re­flect your ethics, whether it’s choos­ing not to use an­i­mal prod­ucts or the com­mit­ment that you’ve made to re­spon­si­ble man­u­fac­tur­ing.

It’s that idea of not just think­ing in a con­ven­tional way and ap­proach­ing life with dif­fer­ent eyes. I don’t mind if I’m ridicu­lous. I’m prob­a­bly still ridicu­lous in my in­dus­try for not us­ing leather and fur. But I guess I in­her­ited this in­cred­i­ble thing of not be­ing afraid to be chal­lenged.

Some­thing I have be­come more aware of as I’ve got­ten older is the gift my par­ents gave me of be­liev­ing that noth­ing is im­pos­si­ble and that any chal­lenges can be over­come.

When you have kids your­self, you start to see it from so many an­gles. It’s the big­gest pres­sure of all: How do you in­spire for the bet­ter­ment of the next gen­er­a­tion?

Con­tin­ued on page 206

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