Clutching a quacking duck in her arms, the military jacket– and skinny jeans–clad model mugs for the camera. “You are so cool, Maud,” coos Stella McCartney from the sidelines as photographer Ryan McGinley snaps away in a sprawling studio in north London’s King’s Cross. “You’re getting the cool award of the century right now.”
Though McCartney is typically known for casting more recognizable faces in her ad campaigns—like, say, Kate Moss—the adorable Maud met two key criteria for this particular shoot: She’s less than five feet tall and is a good decade away from being eligible for her driver’s license. The fact that the auburn-haired tyke doesn’t mind sharing the spotlight with rabbits, snakes, lizards and a posse of other tots—all under age nine—was just the icing on the cupcake.
In November, in collaboration with Gap Kids and Baby Gap, McCartney is unveiling a one-time-only stash of children’s clothes, a product category grown-up clients of the ultracool designer have been demanding for years. Launching in the UK, France, Japan, the U.S. and Canada, the line includes everything from supersoft cashmere blankets for newborns to Fair Isle sweaters, brushed cotton blazers with silk lapels, and those wool military jackets, which are intricately embroidered with gold thread. In addition to the wallet-friendly price points (from $14 for wool tights to $128 for jackets), many of the looks are versatile enough to be worn by either girls or boys, a boon for parents with big broods.
A mother of three children under the age of five (two boys, Miller and Beckett, and a girl, Bailey), McCartney says opting to work on her first full-blown kids’ collection with a stylish yet affordable retail partner was a natural move. As a mom, she says, she was frustrated by the gulf between the extremes of the children’s clothes spectrum. “I find there’s nothing between the two worlds—it’s kind of cheap or expensive, and they look like that,” she explains. “Some expensive labels are too conservative and twee, and the cheaper stuff is a little less classy and tasteful.”
Of course, McCartney knows it’s not only Mom and Pop steering the sartorial ship. “I’m quite aware that after the age of four and a half, kids actually don’t want to wear what their parents want to put on them anymore,” she says, raising a knowing eyebrow. So to avoid pitched battles with her own line, McCartney sought design input from insiders. Specifically, she commissioned four-year-old Miller and her colleagues’ daughters to draw the monsters that adorn the days-of-the-week underwear. And Miller even got final say on a T-shirt design.