The longtime residence of Jackson Pollock and his wife, Lee Krasner, situated just off the main road in the hamlet of the Springs, a stone’s throw from East Hampton, is a modest affair, more indicative of the painter’s meager finances than of his artistic clout. The photo shoot taking place on the lawn between the wood-frame house and studio suits the no-frills setting: a photographer curved over the camera directed at his pretty, fresh-faced subject; a trio of alert assistants ready to bustle yet with little to do, though one keeps a discreet eye on a nearby bench strewn with a few pieces of clothes and a pair of women’s handbags. After noon, the property is open to visitors, and while those few milling about look above reproach, you never know.
Typically, taking magazine pictures in public attracts considerable curiosity. But this shoot is so low-key, and the subject—who may or may not look familiar to the people about to ditch their shoes and don disposable foam slippers for the honor of walking on Pollock’s paint splatters in the studio—acts too low-maintenance to be a real celebrity.
Yet a celebrity Stella McCartney is, she of the famous fashion house and legendary lineage. As an editor, one can think of few subjects willing to step in front of the camera of a major photographer without a top-tier hair and makeup team at the ready to conceal, highlight, enhance and fluff. But on this cool summer day, McCartney herself has applied a few cursory flicks of the mascara wand and now dutifully tousles and pulls back her hair as per Craig McDean’s request, a skill perhaps inherited from her mother, who routinely self-beautified—including those distinctive punkish haircuts. Earlier in the week, there had been some confusion about the hair and makeup, so McCartney decided to dispense with it. “It seems silly to have your makeup done out here,” she says, pointing vaguely to her surroundings, which she had suggested as a meeting place. (She’s warm and engaging, but not enough to open the doors of a family residence for pictures.) She has, however, temporarily traded in her beachy flat sandals for sexy purple platforms, even though McDean is taking ultratight shots. At five months pregnant, McCartney has no intention of doing a trendy “bump” portrait. The shoes will “make me feel foxier,” she says. “You know when you’re having your pictures taken, and you’re in flats…”
Foxy shoes a body’s length outside the frame yet no hair and makeup pros—that’s Stella McCartney. It’s precisely the attitude she captures with her clothes: fresh, relaxed, sexy in a no-big-deal way. Her terrific fall collection radiated modern sensuality with its big volumes, short lengths and current of sportif chic. But McCartney bristles politely at the notion that her look projects a new, young glamour. “That isn’t a word that I would use, or aspire to,” she says. “For me, it’s more of a natural confidence, naturally sexy. My idea of beauty is women who are comfortable with themselves, who are not trying too hard.”