When Stella McCartney announced the release of her new fragrance, it was the end of a long three year wait for a follow up to her signature perfume.
While this is slightly longer than the one year gap that had originally been planned, she can be forgiven for the substantial lapse of time, considering in that time she had developed her signature line, collaborated with Adidas on producing the track clothes to be worn by Team GB at the London 2012 Games and produced a line of childrenswear.
And that’s even before you get on to her being a mother of four and her efforts as an animal rights campaigner.
To mark the launch of L.I.L.Y, Selfridges hosted an evening of conversation between Stella and British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman, with just a few people given the chance to see these two supremely talented women at the very top of their professions.
What followed was an insightful event detailing Stella’s design process, inspiration, and how her sheep sometimes cause her trouble…
Held in the iconic department store’s Ultralounge – which had been decorated in honour of her arrival – Stella in casual trousers and a blazer (and looking surprisingly tall… perhaps the heels from her own collection helped?) spoke of her design process and how to her it’s about getting the details right.
Admitting her love for the great outdoors, a career as a landscape gardener was once an option for her. Not simply for the chance to work with the pretty flowers, but due to the technical considerations that have to be made to crafting each space. What will grow in the soil, how much light does it need, which plants grow well together. It is this detail that drives her creations to be the sculptured yet flattering collections she produces, rather than just a desire to create nice things.
Inspiration can come from a variety of places and Stella explained that colour has a huge influence on her – the sight of a gorgeous leaf on a country path can have a big effect on what she chooses to do in a new collection.
However, the biggest impact is clearly from her passion for animal rights.
Stella’s vegetarian principles mean none of her shoes or bags are produced with animal products. But sticking with these ideas can be limiting to her, as she explained that she can only source the materials needed from a few small suppliers, who are often limited to only producing their leather substitute products in either black or brown. If they created a range in blue, they could go out of business.
Having a farm full of organically reared sheep is also not as wonderful as it may seem. Explaining that she turns up each year with a bag of wool sheared from the animals and desperate to use it in her collection, her design team have perhaps more practical ideas for ways of sourcing their material.
It is the things she feels passionately about that have the greatest influence on her, and her love for her family is practically tangible.
The new fragrance is a deeply personal one, being named after a nickname given to her mum by her dad, L.I.L.Y standing for Linda, I love you.
The perfume itself could evoke her memories of a childhood spent in the country, being based on the distinctive scent of Lily of the Valley.
Admitting that it has an old fashioned fragrance, Stella explained this was one thing that drew her to the scent, although it is given a modern feel with the addition of mossy and earthy tones and a hint of chocolate. It’s gorgeously rich, yet fresh and modern. A chic city girl who pulls on her hiking boots for a weekend in the countryside.
Pragmatic about the fame that her high-profile job has brought her, Stella admitted that she does not feel well-known, considering she grew up in the presence of one of the world’s most famous men.
While it could be cynical to think that her surname had bought her a career, remember the years she spent at art school and university, the summers on internships, and the 15 years it has taken her to reach this point in her career since showing her final collection at Central Saint Martins.
Considering the future of her business, Stella explained she is keen to explore new areas, with the one area that is glaringly lacking in a house that produces womenswear, fragrance, sportswear, lingerie and childrenswear being a line created just for men.
Confessing that every season she is desperate to make a design based on one of her husband’s T-shirts, perhaps when she gets to work on this line it will finally make an appearance.