That’s a description that well suits McCartney. After more than 10 years of fame in her own right, she still disarms anyone who expects double diva-dom from this icon progeny and major fashion designer, and those who know her say the grounded demeanor is no mere act for the press. She’s quick with a thank-you note and to inquire about the children of acquaintances, remembering details of ages and interests. As for her friends, she goes all out. “Stella’s the kind of friend who calls me on the anniversary of my dad’s death,” says Gwyneth Paltrow. “When I was pregnant with my daughter, she said to me, ‘You sort of eloped, so we never got to do anything. Why don’t we go to my house in the country for the weekend?’ When I got there, all my high school friends were there. She had plastered my room with pictures from growing up, and she organized amazing games.”
“Beauty is women who are comfortable with themselves.”
Domenico De Sole, who during his tenure as CEO of Gucci Group signed McCartney to do her own collection, recalls meetings at his house in London when she would make tea with his wife. More telling, he says, is the way she behaved beyond the boss’s line of vision: “We have a huge facility [in Navaro, Italy] that made ready-to-wear for the Gucci Group. Everybody would come to tell me how much they enjoyed working with Stella and how gracious and kind she was. I’m not talking about the CEO of the operation; I’m talking about the seamstresses, the people in the shop.”
“Why wouldn’t I be nice?” McCartney queries. “My mom and dad were kind of famous for being nice.”
Which is not to say Sir Paul and the late Linda McCartney raised a pushover. Professionally, Stella, 35, is fiercely determined and deliberate, with a clear sense of direction. She’s proud of her business, and from the start she insisted on doing things her way. “We’re quite a responsible brand,” she says, referring to her hard-core anti-fur and -leather stance and her decision to keep her firm, and thus her employee roster, based in London.
De Sole, who put her under contract at Tom Ford’s urging, remembers a tough, savvy negotiator who, despite her youth and relative lack of accomplishment, refused to budge on one point in particular—the rights to her name. It didn’t hurt that her legal advice came from high-powered entertainment lawyer John Eastman, aka Uncle John. His ironclad dictum: “It’s not about the money. Always have an out.”
“I grew up with a name in my life, and I know the importance of that name,” McCartney says. “The whole thing in the negotiations was giving away any part of that name, and the possibility of losing that name, so it wasn’t an option. I think having my uncle involved, because that’s his job and, you know, that’s all you’ve got at the end of the day is your name, isn’t it?”