In 15 years of designing desirable clothes for women under her own label, Stella McCartney has built something more than a brand, something closer to a way of life. Her ethical principles, rigorously maintained in the sourcing and production of her pieces, have been an example within the industry and provided a template for other, similary minded designers. Meanwhile, McCartney’s British, tailored style and cheeky sensibility have become a kind of symbol for modern femininity, a shorthand for casual sophistication, relaxed elegance. So now, as she finally turns her attentions toward menswear, she’s opening up a whole new world of possibilities. Here, she gives us a peek inside her process.
INTERVIEW: Who are some of your male muses?
STELLA McCARTNEY: When I think about “the Stella man,” I naturally reflect on the men in my life. I think about my husband, my father, my friends, but also those men who have inspired me—musicians, artists, filmmakers of the present, past and future. So we created a collection, a wardrobe, that allows every type of man to find something to suit him. Men can feel comfortable and safe coming to us because they know they can find something that works for them.
INTERVIEW: What is your philosophy in menswear?
McCARTNEY: The starting point for the menswear is the man who inspires “the Stella woman.” He has been standing alongside her all along, and now is the time that he has his moment. He has inspired so much of what I do from day one, and now feels like the right time to talk to him, ask him questions, and address all his needs. I want to give him a voice. And want him to feel as at home with Stella as our woman does, with an effortless approach to fashion, able to express himself as himself and not try to be anyone else.
INTERVIEW: What was your biggest surprise in designing for men?
McCARTNEY: One of the aspects of menswear I find so fascinating is the emphasis on staples (and comfort) in every man’s wardrobe, all across the world. We all have those kinds of staples—just like in our diet here in England—everyone has a sort of universal wardrobe ingredient. We all have our limitations; we all have the box that we’ve placed ourselves in with our wardrobes of pieces we are comfortable wearing. And, with men, there is more of a sense of uniform and a level of allegiance to specific pieces, a specific way of dressing. And because it’s so much more established with men, I’m intrigued to see how far one can go outside of their comfort zone.
INTERVIEW: Biggest challenge?
McCARTNEY: Doing menswear put me out of my comfort zone, because I’ve obviously been doing womenswear all my life. But at the same time, it is really exciting and something I was ready for. I trained at Savile Row in men’s tailoring while I was at Central Saint Martins, and I did some menswear when I did the Team GB Olympics uniforms in 2012 and again this year. That helped me feel more confident and more comfortable in menswear. But, also, in a kind of sinister way, I think that I’m very drawn to the challenge of the unknown.