09.22.11

Stella McCartney’s Next Act

The world will first see the fashion star’s first ballet costumes Thursday night, when her dad’s ballet, ‘Ocean’s Kingdom,’ premieres in New York. McCartney talks to Jacob Bernstein about their first father-daughter collaboration, Kate Moss’s summer wedding, and more.

In the 14 years since she became a fashion star, first as the designer of Chloe, and then as the namesake founder of her own brand, Stella McCartney has always marched to the beat of her own drum. In an industry where leather goods are a kind of bedrock, she has opted to work entirely with fabrics that don’t involve animal cruelty. She was also designing lower-cost lines for Target and H&M long before it became the “it” thing to do. Now, for the first time, she’s collaborating with her father, Paul, doing costumes for Ocean’s Kingdom, the ballet he’s helmed with Peter Martins and The New York City Ballet. She spoke to The Daily Beast’s Jacob Bernstein about getting notes from her dad, why vegetarianism is important, and Kate Moss’s weekend-long wedding.

In a design career that’s now well into its second decade, you’ve never done anything substantial with your father, former Beatle Paul McCartney. Why change that now?

At this point, it seemed like fun, but it took 10 years to get to that stage and to have the confidence that [working with him] wasn’t total nepotism. It was the right time. Definitely it was about having fun. And it doesn’t come around very often, the opportunity to do a ballet with the New York City Ballet with Peter Martins and the fantastic dancers they have. But also, he is Paul McCartney! And how awesome is that?

Did your dad give you notes?

He definitely had a vision. And of course, I wanted to work within his framework.

A recent article in The New York Times mentioned that Ocean’s Kingdom had a real environmentalist message, the kind your family is known for. Where did that earth-first veganism come from?

It began with my parents. It’s more than just saying that we’re vegetarians. It’s a philosophy of how you conduct your life and time on the planet. We were quite a responsible family. One of the things I was taught growing up was, “Do unto others as you would have done to yourself.” So it’s not just about not killing cattle and “Meat-Free Monday.” It’s a way of life. But we’re not claiming to be perfect.

There wasn’t even fish, right?

When we were young, there was fish, but then we decided to go veggie. I’m not sure what year that was … I’ve been a vegetarian since I was very young.

Designers are known for having a tough time working around the needs of performers.

For me, that’s one of the most interesting elements of this. But I do performance wear [for Adidas], and these dancers are athletes, so I have an understanding of that.  And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that you have to use stretch materials if you’re working with ballerinas.

A couple of weeks back, you participated in the annual style extravaganza Fashion’s Night Out. In New York, there was an endless stream of very chic young people running around looking very chic, but carrying no shopping bags. Did you sell anything?

I think we sold some shoes to the editor of British Vogue, but it’s not really about selling for us. It’s about celebrating the brand and the industry. And it was great fun. There’s no harm in celebrating fashion. It’s young kids expressing themselves. It’s a positive thing.

How was the fashion wedding of the century?

Which one? There have been a number of them here.

Oh, yes, indeed. I meant Kate Moss.

“It took 10 years to get to that stage and to have the confidence that [working with her father, Paul] wasn’t total nepotism. It was the right time.”

It was great. It was Kate’s wedding. It was everything you would think it would be.

A friend of mine who was there said it went on until 7 a.m.

Your friend obviously didn’t stay for the two or three days it went on for. But I have four kids. I kept it together.

So what time did you go in?

Oh, shush. I’m not telling you that.