This article originally appeared in the June 2016 issue of ELLE.
In a glass-walled hotel restaurant high above London’s South Bank—the Thames uncoils below like a glinting liquid snake—actress Amandla Stenberg, 17, and model Kenya Kinski-Jones, 23, are twirling each other, ballroom-style, to Drake’s “Hotline Bling,” bopping their heads as they sing along. “Call me on my cell phone….” A few yards away, Stella McCartney picks up her phone, which has been vibrating insistently, and stuffs it into the pocket of her sleek yet slouchy black suit. You can’t call her on her cell phone—at least, not today. The trio are about to hit a party for McCartney’s new fragrance, POP. Stenberg, the outspoken, openly bisexual Hunger Games star, and Kinski-Jones, the daughter of actress Nastassja and music mogul Quincy, are two of the scent’s much-buzzed-about faces, along with critically adored musician Grimes and 19-year-old Lourdes Leon (a doe-eyed doppelgänger of her mother, Madonna, circa 1983). When they arrive, the fete is already in full swing: Pink balloons crowd the ceiling; tables are set with sprays of tuberose, the scent’s central note, along with cucumber sandwiches and glasses of geranium-bright blood orange juice. “I wanted it to be like hanging out at a friend’s flat,” McCartney says.
That’s because POP is all about everything that a major fragrance usually isn’t. There’s no come-hither ad campaign, no wear-this-to-make-a-lover-swoon messaging. (The print ad, a simple close-up of the four faces, “was about letting the girls be themselves and not airbrushing them. Letting them have eyebrows and roots and the whole shebang,” McCartney says.) True to the spirit of her designs, POP is a scent made by a woman for women, and naturally—from a designer who has long used her sporty-yet-sexy creations to promote mindfulness about issues such as the environment and animal welfare—it comes with a Big Idea: to cheer on women’s solidarity while also celebrating their individuality. “There’s so much pressure to look like something or act like something,” she says. “And I wanted this fragrance to encourage young women to be who they want to be.”
POP by Stella McCartney is here! Shop the new fragrance now at #StellaMcCartney.com and at select Stella stores worldwide. Discover the #POPNOW campaign featuring #LolaLeon, @actuallyGrimes, @KenyaKinskiJ and @AmandlaStenberg on #StellasWorld. Shot by @_glen_luchford.
Stella McCartney(@stellamccartney)님이 게시한 사진님,
McCartney’s inspiration to create a little-sister fragrance to her classic 13-year-old perfume, Stella, came from—she avoids using the word, but let’s get it over with—millennials. “I feel so encouraged by the next generation of women and how they have a voice and a point of view,” she says. “I find that exciting as a not-so-young woman.” She smiles. “Not that I’m terribly old.” At 44, McCartney telegraphs an enviable self-possession, a lived-in kind of cool. “When I met her,” Stenberg says, “I really felt like I had another hilarious aunt or something. She’s so funny, and she curses like a sailor.”
For McCartney, the combination of personalities for the campaign was key. “I have two young daughters [Bailey, nine, and Reiley, five], and I want them to identify with these girls and learn from them,” she says. All four muses are in the process, she says, of “popping”—that is, becoming fully independent and doing their own thing. “I find it really interesting, that moment when a girl becomes a woman. Discovering who you are can be terrifying.” For the designer herself, that lightning bolt struck when she presented her career-launching degree collection at Central Saint Martins in 1995. “It was the first time I was really allowed to be myself. I was like, ‘I can’t avoid this any longer, I can’t hide x, y, and z. I have to man up and get out.’ ” She identifies, too, with Leon—currently studying performance art at the University of Michigan—as a fellow musical-legend daughter. “I understand where she’s come from,” McCartney says. “She’s a great talent, and I’m excited to see her take off in her own right.”
So happy to have Lola on the POP team! Lola, who I’ve known her entire life, is at the beginning of her career as a performing artist. She’s an independent, inspirational and free-spirited young woman. Despite being born in the spotlight, she has kept her feet firmly on the ground! X Stella #POPNOW #LolaLeon
McCartney doesn’t pretend to be a fragrance obsessive (“The scents I connect with are, like, my horse or the smell of my kids’ breath in the morning”), but she wanted POP’s link to the fashion house to be strong. She designed a capsule collection of nine pieces (including a mini hot-pink version of her beloved Falabella bag) for the launch and ensured that the materials used to create the juice—the tuberose and creamy sandalwood at the scent’s base—were sustainably sourced. “The majority of fragrances are designed by people who have no idea what the house does,” she says. “But for me, it had to be honest. That’s where it becomes personal.” McCartney tucks an errant strand of hair behind her ear and prepares to rejoin the party. “This fragrance isn’t about me; it’s about another generation of women,” she says. “But having said that, I wear it and I love it. I’m allowed to.”
Stenberg (top left) wears: Diamond-embroidered jacquard top, Stella McCartney, $2,395, at Stella McCartney, NYC. Kinski-Jones (top right) wears: Jacquard wool jumpsuit, Stella McCartney, $2,340. Designer in her own clothes.
Styled by Carmen Borgonovo; hair by Raphael Salley at Streeters for Schwarzkopf; makeup by Emma Kotch at Streeters.