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2003-May-18: Stella Speaks to the Observer

On the eve of the launch party for her London boutique, Stella McCartney granted an interview to the Observer's Gaby Wood. Now that she is designing under her own label, Stella finds her time "is just chopped up into tiny little pieces. But it's okay, Got a job. Better than nothing. I'm lucky that I'm working. . ."

While Stella give the reporter a tour of the boutique, she points out the marquetry patterns in the wooden walls.  Stella said that she was trying to achieve the look of a winter forest.  Pointing to the birds in the pattern she explains:

"That's for my mum, really, because my mum loved hummingbirds.  There's so much love in this room.  It's probably silly of me - people probably come in and never notice. . . Look, this is nice .. [she reads a little motto carved in wood] 'I think your whole life shows in your face and you should be proud of that."
Stella chose not to work in the same fields has her parents.  She says:
"Yes, that was very intentional, from day one. I knew very, very early on that I wouldn't do music, because I thought it was too good a story, really. And I have to say I was very surprised when I started doing design that anyone made the connection with my family. But I think it was a turning point: now anyone's a celebrity, it's easier to be one, and there's more pressure on famous people full stop."
Stella was eight-years-old when John Lennon died.  She remembers it as the time her father installed an electric fence around their home in Sussex:
"Well, I didn't really realize who my dad was at that age, so I just knew that this guy who was one of the most important people in our family had died. That's how I took it. It wasn't like, 'Dad, you're a Beatle too, we have to worry about security!"'
How would Stella raise her own children?
"I'd do it exactly the same. Hopefully I'll be living in the country if I'm lucky enough to have kids, and they'll go to normal schools and nobody will know about them, unless they decide they want to be known about. You know, it's funny for me that this always comes up.  I don't know if it takes away from what I do a little bit. I look at these rails and I think, I wish we were talking about the clothes instead of John Lennon."
Stella spoke of her days as head designer at Chloe, and compares them to her work now:
"It was pretty hard-core, but I feel like the collections are getting better. I feel like I'm pushing it a bit more, like it was easier for me before to just sort of go, 'Oh, this is a T-shirt'  I think because I was introducing that style of things it was easier to get away with slightly easier designs."
Does she feel she is blazing a trail?
'I've no idea.  I'd love to think so, but I wouldn't presume I was doing anything of that sort of weight. I think probably younger kids think, 'Well, if she can do it I can do it', which I hope they do."
Stella then described the woman she designs for:
"[She] wants to feel good about herself, and wants to feel sexy, slightly clever, that there's more to what she's wearing than meets the eye. A confident woman. I think confidence is what makes a woman modern. To be a classy bird is a big deal. My mum was very classy, so I'd like to think that I could have. .. I think the energy that she had and the kind of person that she was is a great reminder of keeping it real, of being true to yourself, and of more important things than fashion.  But I do all different sorts of women.  I do a sassy, naughty woman, and I do a businesswoman, and then I do a little funny girl. The Stella McCartney woman is quite complicated, I guess."
Stella was recently surprised to learn that her name appears in the Guinness Book of Records :
"I thought the Guinness Book of Records was for like the biggest lemon, or the biggest bubble you can blow, but apparently I'm in there for being the fastest rising fashion designer or something.  And I haven't even been inducted! I should get a medal or something, shouldn't I?"
Stella claims she really does not live a celebrity life-style:
"It's not really. I've got a balance - you know, I've got a lot more unfamous friends than famous friends. But it's just something that sounds good, isn't it ?  I mean, who would you rather hear about, my friend Joanne or my friend Madonna?'

[The reporter wants to hear about Joanne]

"Well, my friend Joanne is coming tomorrow night and she's staying at my house. And she just asked me if she could borrow some clothes, and so did my friend Jane, so we're going to sit and try on all my clothes before we get ready. I've known them for about 15 years.
"We all just understand each other. I'm not the kind of friend who can sit and chat for three hours on the phone, or writes letters - I don't even really email. But I do have a lot of contact with my friends. "
There are some questions Stella refused to address.  When asked about her marriage to Alasdhair Willis, Stella replied, "What wedding?" and when asked about Heather she first asked which Heather, her sister or her father's wife?  When she learned it was the latter, she dismissed the question saying, "Come on, this interview's not about that" then went off to have her picture taken.

(kindly submitted by PLUGGED correspondent Joan M. Hopkins)


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