How Stella McCartney Changed The Face Of Fashion As We Know It

Stella McCartney with a line of models wearing her designs

by Danielle Fowler |
Published on

Stella McCartney may be the daughter of world-famous Beatle, Sir Paul McCartney, but she has undoubtedly carved her own inimitable path in the world of fashion.

Stella with her mother Linda and Father Paul McCartney ©Getty

Having launched her eponymous label in April 2001 under the Gucci Group, the designer not only introduced her infamous tailoring to fashion critics but her committed animal rights support.

We take a look back at her revolutionary designs, which undoubtedly changed the way fashion is consumed forever.

How Stella changed the mindset of the fashion masses

Having followed in the footsteps of her mother Linda McCartney, Stella (who practices vegetarianism) has woven her core values into each and every collection - refusing to use furs, leather and animal skins within the process.

Other renowned fashion houses would have undoubtedly fallen at the early stages, often reliant upon the use of animal skins but Stella prevailed. In an interview with Women’s Wear Daily, the designer recalled the beginnings of her career and the hardships that she faced in order to be taken seriously.

Stella McCartney sits front row alongside Anna Wintour and father Paul McCartney ©Getty

“Yes, early in my career I was blatantly ridiculed for it. I always felt that leather and fur are the conventions of our industry,” she said. “It’s not new and it’s not sustainable. None of it turns me on.”

Stella McCartney at her Autumn/Winter '14 show during Paris Fashion Week ©Getty

Failing to render a positive response from the notoriously hard to crack fashion industry at first, Stella was eventually given an ultimatum. The Gucci Group, gave her a deadline of three years to start turning over profits otherwise the designer would lose out on financial support.

Stella walks down the runway at the end of her Chloe Spring/Summer 2001 hand in hand with Naomi Campbell* ©Getty

In a bid to boost the brand, Stella launched a series of collaborative projects including one with high street chain H&M in 2005. Profits soon soared and the designer found herself on the fashion map, where she would remain to this very day.

Stella walks out following her autumn/winter '16 show ©Getty

Yet in a business pinned to the use of animal skins, Stella faced (and still faces) a healthy fight. In a 2014 interview with The Telegraph, Stella admitted that her fashion business would be five times bigger if it didn’t commit to the sustainable philosophy she has built her brand on but she admitted, “Luckily, I like a challenge.” And a challenge it has most certainly been.

Her evolutionary presence within the fashion sphere

The graduate collection

When Stella McCartney presented her final year collection at Central Saint Martins, it was not your average student fanfare. With her father Paul McCartney in the FROW and the likes of pals Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss as her models, it was bound to cause a sartorial stir.

Stella McCartney at her graduate show with Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell as models ©Getty

And it did. With tiny top hats and wide lapelled blazers, it was a true demonstration of Stella's tailoring skills. Which she would put to use in future collections...

Her stellar debut

Stella debuted her collection in October 2001 during Paris Fashion Week but despite high anticipation, didn’t receive a positive rapture from fashion critics. With cockney rhyming slang emblazoned across cropped t-shirts and cutout lace leotards, it was far from the minimalist display she puts on now.

Her commitment to sustainable fashion

In 2014, Stella McCartney teamed up with Livia Firth, founder of the Green Carpet Challenge to design a line of sustainable clothing.

The collection was debuted at the Royal Institution of Great Britain in Mayfair and drew a celeb-filled crowd including the likes of Drew Barrymore, Samuel L Jackson and Mario Testino.

Stella pictured with Natalie Massenet, Anna Wintour and Livia Firth at the 2014 Stella McCartney Green Carpet Collection ©Getty

The colour block collection was a success and gave Stella the opportunity to experiment with new materials including a new organic material.

Stella McCartney launched her Green Carpet Challenge Collection in 2014 ©Getty

Cheering up the face of fashion

Models know how to have fun during a Stella show. Case in point is the autumn/winter '14 show, when Cara Delevingne danced her way down the runway (Impromptu or planned? The jury is still out). The cheery model clasped hands with Joan Smalls and if anything, showed just how much movement can be achieved through Stella's iconic knitted flares.

Cara skips down the catwalk at the spring/summer 2014 show* ©Getty

The revolutionary 'illusion' dress

Coveted by celebrities far and wide, the optical illusion style dress Stella McCartney first introduced was continuously pictured on the red carpet.

Stella McCartney's illusion style dress was a hit with the celebrities ©Getty

Donned by the likes of Kate Moss and Miranda Kerr, the trend was undoubtedly a success.

And with an ethos dedicated to 'helping change people’s perception of eco fashion' through 'beautiful and modern clothing and accessories', we cannot wait to see what Stella McCartney brings next.

Take a look back at Stella's greatest achievements within the fashion industry:


Stella McCartney - Grazia

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Stella McCartney received an honorary fellowship from the University of the Arts London before announcing a scholarship programme at her previous school, Central Saint Martins.

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Stella McCartney collaborated with Adidas in the creation of the Team GB kits ahead of the Olympics in 2012.

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Stella won not one but two gongs at the British Fashion Awards in 2012 for both 'Designer of the Year' and 'Designer Brand of the Year'.

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Stella McCartney received an OBE at Buckingham Palace in March 2013 for her committed services to fashion.

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Stella launched her debut Green Carpet Collection in 2014. Here Stella is pictured with Livia Firth, the founder of the eco-friendly campaign.

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Stella with her father Paul and David Bowie at the Vogue Fashion Awards in the year 2000 held at Madison Square Gardens in New York City.

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