Linda and Stella McCartney
When it comes to artistic ambition and animal rights, the fashion designer is cut from the same cloth as her mom
“Her family background is completely irrelevant,” Domenico De Sole, the former CEO of Gucci and current chairman of Tom Ford, once said of Stella McCartney. He was referring to her talent and work ethic, which some, including the dependably brash Karl Lagerfeld, have questioned ever since she used famous models and played music composed by her father during her senior fashion show at Central Saint Martins. After a stint as the creative director of Chloé, McCartney has spent the past decade at the helm of her own wildly successful global luxury brand. Between designing the Octavia dress—a red carpet favorite this spring, and the 2012 Olympic kit for some 900 competing Brits, she has of late earned her stripes (or Union Jacks, you could say) once more, but there’s another sense in which De Sole’s comment is simply untrue.
“The way my parents brought me up to see the world is still absolutely key to what I am about,” McCartney told The Guardian in 2009. She was particularly close to her mother, who died in 1998 and without whom McCartney has admitted to feeling a little lost.
Linda Eastman was a photographer of iconic musicians before she married one, and like Paul McCartney, her creative streak outlasted the swinging ’60s. Throughout the ’70s, she played in Wings, the rock group named after an image that came to Paul when he was praying as Linda was delivering Stella. Stella traveled with Wings as a young girl; when it disbanded, the family moved to a farm in Sussex complete with British livestock. A staunch animal rights activist, Linda lobbied on behalf of PETA and wrote two books on meatless meals before starting a vegetarian food line.
Stella absorbed it all. For one, she cites her mother’s unexpected sartorial pairings and natural beauty as inspiration for her fashion designs, which are as politically correct as they are coveted. Stella McCartney is a woman who sells $1,285 bags made not of leather, but of polyester, and even if this ability to eschew compromise is the greatest luxury her famous name has afforded, as she has said, it’s admirable nonetheless. She’s also inherited her mother’s culinary passion, transforming seamlessly from artist to domestic goddess. She once served a farmhouse-fresh lunch to New York Times fashion critic Cathy Horyn, though her usual table guests are her four children, or “the monkeys,” as she called them, seemingly without irony, in a Goop entry. Surely they too will learn from their forebears. —Kate Guadagnino
Photo by David Montgomery/Getty Images