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Stella McCartney on Her Obsession with Roses and the ‘Crap’ in Beauty Products Today



British fashion designer Stella McCartney launched her namesake fragrance, Stella, in 2003. Over the years, the romantic rose eau de parfum has become so popular that she will be launching an eau de toilette come April. She told about her obsession with the flower that inspired the fragrance.

“I love roses. I have to say, I’m a bit obsessed. I grew up in the countryside on an organic farm, so my memories of scent are mostly about being outside. And I’m very much obsessed with the smell of roses. I’m not as obsessed with the way they look: I think they’re the most beautiful flowers, but for me, the rose has to smell,” said McCartney.

Little did she know that rose is not a common note in the world of fragrance, only discovering this about six months into the process and there was no looking back. “I think we almost brought the rose back in fragrance—having that naïveté is quite a benefit.”

Lara Stone fronts the campaign completely naked with nothing but a few bottles of Stella to cover her up. “Look at her—she’s just a total babe. I wanted a woman that had a strength and a fragility about her, and I think Lara really has that. We chose to shoot her with nothing on—no makeup, no hair, no real retouching. We chose to shoot her in a state of complete nature, and I just think she’s stunning. She has what I think the fragrance is all about: femininity and sensuality,” said McCartney.

When the designer was asked if she felt fragrance campaigns tend to be geared toward a man’s idealization of a woman, McCartney responded, “I think they’re sort of geared to make you feel a little bit insecure and bad about yourself. And it’s all about sex. For me, fragrance isn’t all about sex.”

“I was ahead of my time, but these guys are behind the times, and it’s not really acceptable,” said McCartney about her now-defunct vegan skincare line. She also spoke passionately about the “crap” in beauty products today, saying, “I find it astounding, because your skin is your largest organ, and you absorb a huge amount of what you put on internally, and really, a lot of the stuff in those conventional products is crap. We should have more respect for ourselves, and we should have more information. The beauty giants of the world should really just get their shit together! It’s totally old-school.”

When asked about plans to revive her skincare line, McCartney compared it to her Adidas collaboration, citing being ahead of her time and the industry taking a while to catch up. “It happened with Adidas—with our Stella McCartney x Adidas collaboration—we did it when nobody was doing that. The skincare I loved, and I really hope we can bring it back.…I think for right now, we want to establish who Stella is [as a fragrance] and celebrate her again. There are a lot of plans now to concentrate on the beauty side of our house.”