Stella McCartney was born in Lambeth, London on 13 September 1971, the second child of former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney and Linda Eastman. She is named after her maternal great-grandmothers: both of Linda McCartney's grandmothers were named Stella. As a young girl, McCartney travelled the globe with her parents and their pop group Wings, along with her siblings: older sister Heather (who was legally adopted by Paul McCartney), older sister Mary, and younger brother James. According to her father, the name of Wings was inspired by Stella's difficult birth. As his daughter was being born by emergency caesarean section, Paul sat outside the operating room and prayed that she be born "on the wings of an angel." Wings toured from shortly after her birth in 1971 until 1980.
Despite their fame, the McCartneys wanted their children to lead as normal a life as possible, so Stella and her siblings attended local state schools in East Sussex, one of them being Bexhill College. McCartney has said that while attending state school, she was a victim of bullying, as well as being a bully herself.
Stella McCartney became interested in designing clothes at age 13, when she made her first jacket. Three years later, she interned forChristian Lacroix, working on his first fashion design collection, honing her skills working for Edward Sexton, her father's Savile Row tailor for a number of years.
She studied her foundation at Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication, fashion design at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in the early 1990s. Her graduation collection in 1995 was modelled by friends and supermodels Naomi Campbell, Yasmin Le Bon and Kate Moss – for free – at the graduation runway show. The collection was shown to a song penned by her famous father, called "Stella May Day." The show made front-page news, and the entire collection was sold to Tokio, a London boutique. The designs were licensed to Browns, Joseph, Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus. In 1998, she designed her sister Mary's wedding dress for her wedding to television producer Alistair Donald.
A lacto-ovo-vegetarian, McCartney does not use fur or leather in her designs and supports PETA. Some of McCartney's designs have text that elaborates on her "no animal" policy; for example, one of her jackets for Adidas says, "suitable for sporty vegetarians" on the sleeve. Stella does use wool, silk, and other animal-derived fabrics in her designs.
In March 1997 McCartney was appointed Creative Director of Paris fashion house Chloé, following in the footsteps of Karl Lagerfeld. Lagerfeld was less than impressed with the house's choice, famously stating, "Chloé should have taken a big name. They did, but in music, not fashion. Let's hope she's as gifted as her father." Despite initial skepticism, McCartney's designs have enjoyed considerable commercial and critical success. She was accompanied to Chloé by her assistant and friend Phoebe Philo, who later replaced her as design director.
In 2001, McCartney resigned from Chloé in order to enter into an eponymous joint venture with Gucci. The line has four stores; one in New York City which opened September 2002, one in Mayfair, London, which opened April 2004, one in Los Angeles which she opened on her birthday in September 2005 and included an expansion into the perfume market, and most recently one in Hong Kong, which opened in 2008. In 2009, Stella launched a store in Paris in the heart of the Jardins du Palais Royal.
Stella McCartney received the VH1/Vogue Designer of the Year award in 2000. Paul McCartney presented the award to his daughter. She thanked him in her acceptance speech and dedicated the award to her late mother. In 2000, McCartney designed Madonna's wedding dress for her marriage to Guy Ritchie.
In January 2007, McCartney launched a skincare line called CARE. The 100% organic line includes seven products, from a cleansing milk made with lemon balm and apricot to green tea and linden blossom floral water.
In 2004, she designed clothes for Madonna's Re-Invention Tour, Annie Lennox's summer tour, and Gwyneth Paltrow's and Jude Law's costumes for the film Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.
She also launched a joint-venture line with Adidas, establishing a long-term partnership with the corporation in September 2004. This line is a sports performance collection for women. The collection includes apparel for swim, gym, running, tennis and wintersports, as well as bags. McCartney's favorite pieces in the collection come with a special reflector keychain.. In early 2006, the keychain was in the shape of a pink heart and in later 2006, it was in the shape of a gray wolf's head. In January 2007, Stella McCartney announced that she would be adding a branch called Gym Yoga to her sports range for Adidas. Gym Yoga spring/summer 2007 collection is inspired byballet and dance uniforms. The collection features double-layered tank tops with deep necklines, low-waisted skinny trousers and lightweight rubber shoes. Her Adidas contract was extended until 2010.
In 2005, she designed a range of clothing and accessories for H&M to boost public awareness of her own brand and to create more affordable options for her fans. The line was released in November of that year and sold out almost immediately on launch day, due to the similarity (in many cases, almost direct copies) between her expensive main line and the H&M line. On 12 March 2007, McCartney's limited edition 42-piece range was released to just 100 Target stores exclusively in Australia. The range was priced from $30 for a silk scarf to $200 for a taffeta trench coat. The collection was made in China. Scenes of near hysteria broke out as women stormed the stores to buy the collection. A problem was "clothing scalpers", who bought up large amounts of the range to resell on eBay at a high mark-up. Later, a large number of buyers returned their Stella clothes to Target complaining of strange, non-standard sizing that was bigger than the norm. A Target spokesperson defended the range saying that Stella's look was "generous" and "oversized". Later, returned Stella clothes languished on the racks having had their prices slashed by up to 60 percent.
In January 2008, McCartney's collaboration with lingerie label Bendon was scheduled to be released to department stores, speciality stores and Stella McCartney stores. McCartney was also scheduled, in early 2008, to release a line of handbags forLeSportsac. The collection has 30 to 40 styles and will range from $200–$500. The collection consists of travel bags, luggage, baby accessories and bags for mothers with infants and toddlers. The line is sold at high end retailers, the Los Angeles and New York Stella McCartney stores, select LeSportsac boutiques, and will be available for purchase online.
In October 2010, Stella relaunched her Designers for Target range in Australia. This time around, less crowds ran into the stores and refunds for the products have been significant. The range is priced from 30 dollars AUD to 249 AUD.
Stella McCartney Kids children's wear was launched on 3 November 2010.
McCartney has always claimed that she would have been a famous fashion designer even if her father had not been Paul McCartney. However, it has been suggested that Vendome, owners of the Chloé house, appointed her as much for the wave of publicity the appointment would generate as for her talent. In recent times, however, some commentators have said that she is capable. Indeed, Voguemagazine wrote that "her first collection for the house Chloé, shown in Paris in October 1997, quickly dispelled any doubts about her talent."
In November 2007, Stella designed a silver necklace featuring a single leg, an apparent attack on her father's estranged wife Heather Mills, an amputee. Fashion insiders thought it was "edgy", but also a bit "out of order".
McCartney married British publisher Alasdhair Willis on 30 August 2003 in a private Catholic chapel at Mount Stuart House, the ancestral home of the Marquess of Bute on the Isle of Bute, Scotland. McCartney's wedding dress was an updated version of her mother's wedding dress from her March 1969 marriage ceremony to Paul McCartney. She designed the dress with Tom Ford, her boss at Gucci. The service was attended by Gwyneth Paltrow, Liv Tyler, Pierce Brosnan, and Madonna.
Their first child, son Miller Alasdhair James Willis, was born on 25 February 2005, weighing 7 lb. 7 oz. Their second child, daughter Bailey Linda Olwyn Willis, was born on 8 December 2006, weighing 7 lb. 14 oz. Stella gave birth to her second son and third child Beckett Robert Lee Willis on 8 January 2008.Her second daughter, Reiley Dilys Stella Willis, was born on 23 November 2010. All four of her children were born in London.
Stella and her husband are members of the Royal British Legion, Paddington Branch. In addition to her elder sisters and younger brother, Stella has a much younger half-sister, Beatrice Milly McCartney, born on 28 October 2003 to her father and his second wife, Heather Mills.