Stella McCartney

5 More Minutes with Stella McCartney

If there were ever a designer who needed no introduction, Stella McCartney is it. As anyone who didn’t spend 2012 living under a rock will be well aware, she designed the (very stylish) Team GB kit for the London Olympics. On top of that she continued creating ready-to-wear collections so chic they sold out in seconds and picked up both Designer of the Year and Designer Brand of the Year at the British Fashion Awards. Oh and on top of that she has FOUR children and from what I can gather, looks goddamn gorgeous all the time. Like I said, and no doubt didn’t need to, a very impressive lady. I was lucky enough to meet and interview Stella at her Adidas by Stella McCartney store back in July and was even luckier to do so again last week.

Stella McCartney

LPA: What was the inspiration behind your SS13 collection for Adidas?

SM: It’s just building on what we’ve done in previous seasons but really pumping it up. There’s a lot of colour, unashamed colour, matching and not matching. It’s about layering pastels, prints and brights. It’s just a bit wrong, which I love and I think is very courageous. I think that sportswear and sports in general for women is courageous. You have to really push yourself to do it. Getting up in the morning and exercising isn’t the easiest thing in the world to do but you know you’ve got to do it. This collection was really about encouraging that and inspiring something that’s not always so easy when yo’d rather chill out, watch telly and eat a brownie.

LPA: When do you exercise?

SM: I try and get it out of the way first thing in the morning so I can get on with my day. Time wise that’s when I can fit it in. I drop the kids off at school and then work out. This collection is really about encouraging outdoor sports as well. We wanted to celebrate bringing sports outside for summer and encourage people to look different and express themselves in a bold way. There’s a lot of sportswear out there and I really feel that we still bring something different to the market.

LPA: I can imagine that in some ways, designing sportswear might be even more challenging than fashion because of the practical requirements and the fact that to a certain extend, you’re re-designing the same garments. How do you manage to deliver something fresh each season?

SM: That’s a big part of this collaboration because it really is genuinely a sports performance brand. First and foremost it’s about performance for me and I love that because I don’t get to do it in my day job. You can put pretty much anything down the runway and give an excuse for having it there whereas with this range, if it doesn’t perform, it’s not in it. With that comes a lot of little alterations and challenges but I enjoy them. I think they’re really exciting and it’s really modern to have challenges like working with clima cool, techno fit and engineered pieces that you can only do a certain shape or a certain kind of design in. They’re important limitations they’re not just whimsical. We’re currently working with dyes that use no water and really trying to push ourselves in not only working with technical limitations but also environmental ones. If you’re working with a non water dyeing process for a t-shirt you only have one colour available to you but you’ve got to make it work for the right reasons.

LPA: Last time we spoke, you had finished designing the kits for team GB and we were all eagerly awaiting the London Olympics. How was the experience of seeing your designs on the medal winner’s podiums? Was there a particular moment that really stood out for you?

SM: It’s funny, it took up so much of my life last year and it was an incredible experience. Working on something like that and getting to be part of that in a very small way was just incredible. My memory of that is mainly just experiencing it like everyone else did. I think it was so surreal that when I watched the games it was just too huge to really think about the fact that I was seeing things I’d designed. Generally I think I just watched it like most people. When I saw one of the athletes on the podium I was a bit like “oh look, they’ve got my jacket on” but it quite overwhelming because it was so recognisable and because we hosted it, it was in every newspaper everyday. It became like it was another person. Would I do it again in 2016? I’d love to forever and ever! I’d like us to host it again.

LPA: 2012 was a pretty major year for you. Do you feel under pressure to really deliver something special or different during 2013?

SM: No because I think I’d already done it! All the timelines are so crazy on this kind of thing that it thankfully didn’t even cross my mind. I set my own standards for myself. I always feel like I have to really deliver no matter what it’s for or who it’s for because at the end of the day my name’s on the label and I want to be proud of it.

LPA: London 2012 has been praised for raising the profile of women in sport. Do you agree feel this has been the case? What steps should people within the sport and fashion industries take to ensure that this progress isn’t lost as we move forward?

SM: Yeah I think women’s sports are totally undervalued and my whole reason for doing the collaboration with Adidas all those years ago was to really give women a platform and an importance and give them pieces that they deserved. I still feel that there’s so much work to be done in that area. Men still drive the industry, their products still sell more and have more investment in the sport. There’s a million reasons to encourage women to do sports and that’s what I’m championing here. Having the right gear to do it in is so important and that was the whole starting point for me. I think men really take a pride in the technical side of sportswear, they get really excited by it, and I want women to be exposed to the same cutting edge techniques. I want to just help women understand that they deserve to have a t-shirt that looks really great and has a clima cool or a breathability to it. I’m all for re-educating women in how they wear sports clothes.

LPA: Do you feel that the line between fashion and sportswear has become more blurred in recent years?

SM: There’s always been a great energy in sportswear and fashion’s always drawn from different energies whether it’s sports or the art world. I think sportswear’s got a great edge to it and I’ve been drawn to those kinds of silhouettes at times. But to be honest, I think the lines always been very blurred. Look at the 80s, street style… I don’t think it’s particularly now that we’re seeing it. I think everything on the runway has a resurgence. Whether it’s sportswear influences or masculinity or surrealism, at some stage everything ends up on the runway.

LPA: Do you really push the eco side of things in your collaboration with Adidas?

SM: Yeah I do but Adidas actually, more than anyone else I’ve worked with, are really aware of it. I’ve actually learnt a lot from them, like not using PVC for example. I don’t use leather and fur in my own collections and it’s great working with Adidas because they don’t use fur and a bit of leather on some pieces but much less than most people in the industry. It’s a very like minded partnership and for the eco sensibility we have a set of rules and regulations and a percentage of every collection that has to be within them. It’s obviously something I encourage but they respond really well.

The Adidas by Stella McCartney store can be found at 97 Fulham Road, London, SW3 6HR and I highly recommend paying a visit because the SS13 collection is awesome!

Love Ella. X

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Interviews 2 Comments

Weekly Wish List: Party Edit

party edit

1) Stella McCartney Josephine Lace Dress, £4195, click here to buy
2) Lucy Choi London Adele Glitter Courts, £185, click here to buy
3) Lanvin Crystal Embellished Box Clutch, £1440, click here to buy
4) Kenneth Jay Lane Drop Earrings, £240, click here to buy
5) Elizabeth and James Metallic Brocade Top, £205, click here to buy
6) Erdem Esmerelda Venice Printes Trousers, £560, click here to buy
7) Anya Hindmarch Marano Dancer LED-lit Glitter Finish Clutch, £495, click here to buy
8) Christian Louboutin Crazy Fur Heels, £735, click here to buy
9) French Connection Disco Leopard Flared Skirt, £95, click here to buy
10) Whistles Jackie Sequin Sweater, £125, click here to buy

Love Ella. X

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Weekly Wish List 05/10/2012

weekly wish list

1) Whistles Narcisse tiered lace dress, £195, click here to buy
2) Valentino studded calf hair pumps, £700, click here to buy
3) Nicholas Kirkwood suede and glitter loafers, £460, click here to buy
4) Carven wool crepe skirt, £240, click here to buy
5) Carven wool crepe jacket, £430, click here to buy
6) Stella McCartney Cloche hat, £185, click here to buy
7) Hoss Intropia frog brooch, £19, click here to buy
8) Mulberry Bayswater in burgundy, £795, click here to buy
9) J Brand 501 courduroy skinny jeans, £205, click here to buy
10) Theory Christelle sweater, £235, click here to buy

Love Ella. X

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Weekly Wish List, August 25th

Another week, another weekly wish list. For a couple of weeks now I been OVER summer and at last the weather in London is agreeing with me! Bye bye pastels, florals and broderie anglaise. Hello tonal hues, supple leathers and cosy knits. Apologies to anyone who’s less than thrilled by this weekends’ autumnal weather conditions but given the gorgeousness of this new season fare, I’m sure you’ll get over it…

Weekly Wish List

1) 3.1 Phillip Lim Ka-Pow Print T-Shirt, £160, click here to buy
2) J.W. Anderson Caged Neoprene Skirt, £220, click here to buy
3) Charlotte Olympia Polly Haircalf & Patent Leather Pumps, £695, click here to buy
4) Stella McCartney Fallabella Boucle Bag, £790, click here to buy
5) Swagga and Soul Isabel Biker Jacket, £225, click here to buy
6) Miu Miu Croc Effect iPhone Sleeve, £85, click here to buy
7) Mulberry Tiger Beanie, £150, click here to buy
8) Alexander McQueen Water Molded Snake Clutch, £1,165, click here to buy
9) Marni Patent Leather Loafers, £410, click here to buy
10) A.P.C Denim Skirt, £140, click here to buy
11) Chinti and Parker Heart Pocket Cashmere Cardigan, £295, click here to buy

Love Ella. X

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More than 5 Minutes With… Stella McCartney

As you may have gathered from my extremely over excited tweets, Monday was possibly one of the best days EVER as I got the incredible opportunity to meet Stella McCartney. I was one of just 5 lucky MOP’s (that’s members of press) invited along to Stella’s recently launched Adidas store where the designer spent a good hour talking us through her AW12 performance wear, team GB collection and generally giving us the lowdown on her amazing career so far. Unsurprisingly, I was more than a little bit nervous as I awaited the arrival of the one and only Stella McCartney with my blogger buddies, Reem Kanj of Five Five Fabulous, Naomi Mdudu of The Fash Pack and Alex Vanthournout of Alex Loves. At last – we all arrived early due to nerves/excitement – Stella walked in all golden tan, glossy hair and beaming smile, an endearing combination of superhuman chicness and down-to-earth charm.

Stella McCartney & Ella Catliff

In between comparing handbags (Stella prefers the ‘lightweight’ variety), bitching about the weather and manhandling most of the new season stock, I managed sneak in more than 5 minutes worth of interview time with the multi-talented Mrs McCartney…

LPA: You’ve been working with Adidas for eight years now, how did the collaboration actually come about in the first place? Was designing a line of (very stylish) sportswear something you’d always hoped to do one day?

SM: Initially it came about because I knew someone (working) at Adidas! When I did my first solo collection after leaving Chloe I wanted to have sneakers on the runway but I didn’t really love the fashion sneakers around at the time, so I wanted to collaborate with Adidas to make them. Because of my friendship we did this one-off sneaker and then about 6 months later they came and asked if I would do the Originals line - the more casual, fashion side with no technology – and I said look, number one you do that great, you don’t need me and number two, I don’t find it exciting. I don’t want to just design tracksuits, I’d rather do a performance range… And here we are. It all came from working together on one little thing with them but it’s a really big part of our brand philosophy now, it really is part of our woman.

LPA: How greatly does the design process for your Adidas collections differ from what goes into your Stella McCartney mainline collections? 

SM: The design process isn’t completely different. I’ll always be a fashion designer first and foremost so I always start from a fashion point of view. I do the research and get inspired by a woman, that’s the same for anything I do, but then the technology does come into play. There are loads of limitations when you’re working with technology so the design process has to be led by it because of all the constraints. Some of the time we work in the same way as I would on my mainline collections but then other times the process is more technology led. For instance, if we’re working on a new sneaker it’ll be the technology that leads the actual project whereas on some of the outfits we have more freedom. Technology really drives this range so often it can be a new material that inspires the product itself.

LPA: How important do you think it is to stay chic whilst exercising? It can be pretty near impossible but when you live in a city like London, it’s hard not to want to look presentable at the gym or in the park. Do you have any top tips for sweating in style?

The starting point and the foundation of the whole collaboration (with Adidas) was, ‘why should you sacrifice your style for your sport? Why should you be embarrassed when you get caught on the way back from the gym?’ You should look as cool working out as you do in everyday life. You should be able go for a pint afterwards, you should be able to feel confident in how you look. What I found really disappointing, and still do 8 years in, is how women especially take technology less into when dressing for their sport. We so want to look good that often, a woman will just wear her favourite t-shirt to work out. You should be able to wear your favourite garment but it should have the clima cool technology in there and it should be made from a material that doesn’t sweat as much. I think those were the foundations for me in working with technology and style so I really love the whole idea of pack-away and lightweight clothes you can chuck in your bag. You want to be able to bike to work but you don’t want to carry around a load of stuff…  I think with exercise it’s really important that you should be able to bring it in to your life.

When you’re working out it’s so hard to get motivated and I think you need to feel like something’s going to take you that extra little bit. Getting dressed to work out should inspire you to work out. I think that colour has a great home in sportswear. When you start with black it’s really hard to get away from it and if you’ve just got the same old black leggings and black t-shirt on that’s not going to inspire you. Fashion’s there to inspire people and with sports, the two together takes it to a whole different level.

LPA: Stella McCartney mainline, Stella McCartney Kids, Adidas by Stella McCartney, Stella McCartney perfumes, accessories, sunglasses… How do you find the time to do so much, so successfully? 

I’m not going to pretend we’re not extremely busy. I have just one girl that I work with on Adidas so it’s a really tight team. I’m the one that has the overview of everything but that works well as I know what’s going on with kids, with Adidas, our own collection and lingerie and sunglasses… I really am the Creative Director and I think that’s good because it brings everything together in the same voice. But I have a good team. If you want to grow you have to at some stage think, right, I cannot do everything myself, I have to trust in my team and enable my talented people. I had to learn to delegate a bit more and learn to be part of the process rather than trying to control everything.

LPA: The Olympics are just days away now, how do you feel about seeing your designs on every athlete representing Great Britain? 

SM: I’m really, really excited about it. I’ve been working on it for nearly 3 years so it’s been a huge part of my life and really one of the most challenging design projects I’ve done ever without a doubt. I feel like my work is done and I can now hand it over to everyone else.

LPA: What were your main considerations while designing the kit for Team GB? 

SM: The main thing for me was working closely with the athletes and delivering on what they needed. One of my big roles was to really try and make them a team. I think they really wanted that, both when they were performing and when they weren’t, even when they’re just in the village. I thought it was funny how so many of them said ‘we want to go and get our meals together in the food hall. We all want to sit down round a table and everyone to look at us and know we’re team GB’. There in a village for two weeks and want to feel unified so I worked on the village kit very closely and wanted it to look like a famiy, one body of work.

This is the first year that a fashion designer has ever worked on the Olympic kit. It’s also the first time that an entire team’s kit has been worked on so comprehensively and more products have been introduced than ever. In previous Olympics a lot of the time women just got the men’s stuff, for instance, in the last games the women cyclists just had the men’s all-in-ones. I was outraged by that so I made a point of trying to really deliver for both sexes this time round.

Love Ella. X

Posted on by Ella Catliff in Interviews 3 Comments