Fashion designer Stella McCartney: how riding was central to her childhood

  • Think of fashion designer Stella McCartney and effortlessly cool clothes (with a hefty price tag) are likely to spring to mind — as well as her incredibly famous father Paul McCartney of The Beatles.

    But on yesterday’s Desert Island Discs (25 June 2017) — the BBC’s iconic radio programme where guests are invited to choose the eight records they would take to a desert island, while talking about their lives — Stella revealed how riding was central to her childhood.

    “[It was a] really tight family. We grew up in the countryside really, we moved from London when I was about five,” she tells the presenter Kirsty Young when asked about her early life as the middle child of Paul and Linda McCartney.

    “We literally moved to a round house in the middle of the forest with two bedrooms in the roof. A lot of my memories are sibling related, but a lot are of travel and life experiences.”

    It was a life of contrasts — as a child the 45-year-old could have been hanging out with the likes of Michael Jackson and David Bowie one moment, and riding her pony bareback the next.

    “There was always tonnes of music in the house. That was the driving force in every moment of our childhood,” she says. “The Mull of Kintrye is where we’d escape and where we lived for a while and it still is. I have the memories of them creating that video there [for Paul’s 1977 song Mull of Kintyre] and the bag pipers turning up and mum and dad leaving to go and shoot a video and it was like ‘where are you going today?’ We’re all just hanging out bareback on horses.

    “My mum was a huge horse rider, as is my dad. We were pretty much left to our own devices — the opposite of parenting now. We’re way too hands on and way too involved in our children’s lives now and way too cautious. And we were the opposite,” she adds.

    “We were literally left to roam the fields of Scotland, fall off our horses and our horses would end up back at the stable and we would be walking for miles home. We had incredible freedom — those are the best memories of my life.”

    Continued below…

    Stella has built a global brand with 50-odd stores and a multi-million pound turnover. She still rides today.

    Each castaway on Desert Island Discs is allowed to take a luxury item — and Stella chose a charm bracelet that her husband gave to her when they got engaged.

    “Every single charm on it is a memory, and a moment in our relationship. There’s a horse on there, my horse that he gave me as my wedding present,” she says.

    Listen to the full episode of Desert Island Discs

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