And vice versa. Sir Paul, a frequent front-row fixture at Stella’s shows in Paris, confesses that he has been nervous on her behalf—though not much anymore. “I know she’s got it,” he says, his affection and pride as plain as hers. “She’s the biz. She has a natural chic, which I think a lot of girls in Liverpool have, and I think probably Stella in some way has inherited it, and it’s mixed with New York chic from her mom [the late photographer and Wings band member, Linda].” And Sir Paul is certainly less coy about the import of the McCartney double feature in Liverpool. “It’s the center of the universe, and we gravitate toward the center of the universe fashion- and music-wise, and we have a lock on the city today,” he declares.
Although she flirted with the idea of a musical career in her youth, Stella says she has no regrets about forgoing the world of stadiums full of screaming fans. “This would freak me out,” she says, swinging Beckett on her belly toward the endless rows of seats at Anfield. “Can you imagine? I don’t like everyone looking at me. I love music, but I love doing it in my own way. I don’t regret not getting into this. There’s so much music in my life, I don’t need to do it.”
In Liverpool, where rock music thrums from many basement bars, even in the afternoon, traces of the Beatles’ legacy are everywhere—from city buses wrapped in images of the Fab Four to the brand-new Hard Days Night Hotel, right around the corner from the Cavern Club, where the band first performed in 1961. There are Beatles tours, a museum and even life-size topiaries in the shape of the band members. On the morning before Stella’s event, a small, multigenerational crowd mills outside the Hope Street Hotel, where the widows of John Lennon and George Harrison, Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison, can be seen having brunch.
Sixteen-year-old Michael Scrutton is after a photo of himself with Ono, should she oblige, while other fans clutch vintage Beatles 45s ready for autographs. “We’re Beatles fans, born and bred,” says Pat Johnson, a Liverpudlian who has pretty much done it all, from recently checking in to the Hard Days Night with her husband for their 35th wedding anniversary to participating in one of Ono’s performance art pieces. “We all danced to ‘Give Peace a Chance’ with her. She was hugging me and everything.”
Stella says she considers her fame a sliver of her father’s and notes that she could easily walk down the streets of Liverpool unnoticed. For all her modesty, however, Stella is quite the showman too. When the 380 guests who shelled out from 50 to 500 British pounds each for her presentation and brunch—with all proceeds going to the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts—arrive at the school, they are greeted by an organic ice cream truck parked outside and a one-man band covered in stella ❤ l’pool badges. During rehearsals, Stella proves herself to be as hands-on with the event as she is with her young family. She tweaks the fashion lineup right up until the last minute, mulling the right moment to break from the Ting Tings’ “That’s Not My Name” to Technotronic’s “Pump Up the Jam” for the frisky program, which has models playing musical chairs in lieu of the standard walk down the runway. Sir Paul’s brother Michael, aka Uncle Mike, snaps photos as his niece supervises final fittings backstage. “It’s so funny seeing Stella here in this building where we spent seven or eight years looking at that,” he says, referring to the backdrop of high windows smudged with rain.