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“It Was Scary. He Has Incredibly Good Taste”: Stella McCartney On Collaborating With Artist Frank Stella For Her AW22 Show

As far as collaborations go, it doesn’t get much catchier than Stella and Stella: the meeting between Stella McCartney and the artist Frank Stella, who lent the designer his catalogue of minimalism and maximalist abstraction to interpret in this season’s wardrobe. After the show, on a roof in the Centre Pompidou where the show took place, McCartney explained why she wanted to work with Stella.

Congratulations on the show, Stella.

Can we have one second to not talk about fashion? Look at this view! I’m very glad to be in Paris on a beautiful sunny day, on the roof of the Pompidou. I’m so excited to have the show at the Pompidou. They have one of the best collections of Frank’s [work] in Europe.

Why did you want to collaborate with Frank Stella?

I’ve known Frank for quite a long time, and I’ve always wanted to collaborate with him. I love his minimalism and maximalism. It’s such a parallel to our brand: the very simple masculine side with the more explosive side. When you look at Frank’s work, it really tracks that quite well.

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Why did you want to show at the Pompidou?

When I called him up and asked him if he would let us do this celebration of his work, he said, ‘Yes, but where can we show?’ I started calling around the galleries of Europe to see where they had the best collections of Frank Stella, and it turns out they’re a little bit snobbish of Frank Stella over here, and I found that really f*cking exciting and, like, really rock ‘n’ roll. I thought that was something to really play with because there’s so much extraordinary art here, and so many extraordinary artists that do get forgotten or overlooked.

What made this the right time to work with Frank Stella?

For me, it’s such an exciting time to talk about his work. It lends itself so well to pattern and texture and material, which is where I was going. This collection was a lot about bringing new fabrics and textures to our brand.

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What’s the newest technique you’ve worked with?

We have another Mylo mushroom bag on the way, and we’ve coupled that with another new technology, which is waste grape skins. All the wine you’ve been drinking in lockdown has been turned into a handbag!

What was it like to work with Frank Stella?

He had to approve all the collection, which is funny, because Frank’s really moody and we love him for it. It was really scary because he has incredibly good taste. When you talk to him he has such a knowledge of art and design. And there were a few things where he was like, “Uh, no,” but it was for reasons that were just so interesting. I loved his perspective on why.

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How did you interpret his work in clothes?

We deconstructed his collage work, his ’80s work. One we did pure, a really bold print we just took directly from one of his canvases, and then we dissected some of them, some of the splashes, just to get some easy-to-wear prints out of his work. Obviously, the woven pieces at the beginning – the tailoring – the linear works lent themselves really well.

You played one of John F. Kennedy’s speeches as we took our seats, and John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band’s ‘Give Peace a Chance’ for the finale…

Well, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what we’re witnessing in the world, and I wanted to let everyone know that here at Stella, we are obviously anti-war. We all feel tremendous sadness for what the people of Ukraine are going through. During Covid it felt strange, and now we’re in a situation that feels even sadder. [A fashion show] is a very strange thing to do under the circumstances. We wanted to make a statement against war.

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