Today’s youth have this incredible punk attitude towards challenging the status quo, which I find hugely inspiring,” says Stella McCartney, who has channelled this freedom of expression into a post-gender capsule for spring/summer 2021. “Living through this global pandemic and watching these young activists really rise up made me think about the work of [Japanese artist] Yoshitomo Nara— a living legend who I’ve admired for a long time.” And so, the boundary-breaking designer herself got in touch with him. “Like how often do you get to collaborate with one of the fathers of the Japanese neo-pop movement?” she quips. Nara, who is known for his cheeky, sweet-yet-sinister characters, said yes. “Stella Shared”, the sustainable unisex capsule modelled by Iris Law and her boyfriend Jyrrel Roberts, is his first-ever fashion collaboration.
“Punk is about not holding back your emotions,” offers up Nara. “It is the freedom to say what you want to say, not worry about what others think and live your life the way you want to live it. I decided to collaborate with Stella because I see that she has a very clear vision on how society should be, environmental issues, and what she stands for as a human being.” Although decades and continents apart, this feeling is echoed by Law, a young woman McCartney has known since she was a baby, and now looks upon with pride. “I think it’s really good for your mental health to stop caring what everyone wants you to do,” opines Law. “Before I met Jyrrel, I sometimes found myself getting into the habit of sticking to the norm and being a normal person, even though that’s not how I am.”
Fashion is important to the rising model because, she says, “It is like your outer shell being decorated and it helps me express what mood I’m in.” The Stella Shared capsule appealed to Law because of its every-person sensibility. “I think fashion should be more inclusive of everyone,” she asserts. “I’ve got a feeling that people are sick and tired of fashion telling them how to be; there shouldn’t be so many guidelines of what’s fashionable.”
The relaxed organic cotton sweaters and reworked classic jeans in uplifting sky blues, creams and pale corals suits Law, who says Roberts has given her the confidence to dress like a “crazy cat lady” everyday. The eco-credentials—forest-friendly viscose, traceable wool and recycled cashmere make up the line of urban pieces—also appeals to the open-minded couple who, like McCartney herself, are always questioning why things are the way they are.
“I’ve always felt like I have quite a punk attitude to life, which was very much inspired by my oldest sister Heather,” McCartney shares of being inspired by her sibling’s love of The Clash concerts, The Damned shows and her rocker mates, including Billy Idol and Steve Strange. The non-conformist lifestyle of her parents, Paul and Linda, is of course well-documented. “I’ve really carried [their attitude] into my business—not killing animals for the sake of fashion is punk!” notes McCartney.
Art, too, has always played a formative role in McCartney’s life. Influential figures, including her honorary godfather Peter Blake, inspired the designer to collaborate with established artists and new-gen talents via her A to Z Manifesto. Twenty-six creatives each pick a letter from McCartney’s social and environmentally-aware alphabet and interpret it. Rashid Johnson chose A for Accountable after the murder of George Floyd and transferred his “Anxious Red” painting into a Stella McCartney T-shirt supporting the 14+ Foundation.
While many brands are still grappling with how to move forward in a greener, more conscious way, Stella McCartney is continuing to open up her universe to everyone. It might not be perfect, but that’s punk.
Shop the Stella Shared spring/summer 2021 collection, which is priced from £60 to £1,295, now at Stellamccartney.com