It ain't easy being green? Try telling that to Stella McCartney. The world's most famous vegetarian designer has built an empire on fur- and leather-free goods without sacrificing sexiness for sustainability. McCartney's cheeky and playful look (over-the-head T-shirt dresses, one-zip jumpsuits, and oversize, cozy knits) have garnered her an A-list of fans as long as her rompers are short: Gwyneth Paltrow, Liv Tyler, Kate Hudson, and Madonna (whom McCartney dressed for her 2000 nuptials to Guy Ritchie) are all hip to the label's eco-con ways. Bolster all that kittenish ease with a healthy booster shot of well-tailored blazers and pantsuits, and meat-eating business types will bite, too.
Before attending Central Saint Martins in her native London, a 15-year-old McCartney scored an internship with Christian Lacroix. While there's little doubt that her famous name (her dad is Paul, as in the Walrus) helped her secure that gig, she learned the craft of tailoring the hard way, while working on Savile Row. In 1995, McCartney presented her graduation collection at Saint Martins, calling on friends Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss to strut. The collection was bought outright by Tokio, a London boutique.
Two years later, creating a mild flutter of controversy, McCartney took over Karl Lagerfeld's post as the creative director of Chloé. "[Chloé] should have taken a big name," Lagerfeld allegedly sniffed. "They did, but in music, not fashion. Let's hope she is as gifted as her father." Hope prevailed, and after a successful tenure at Chloé, Stella launched her own label in 2001 as part of the Gucci Group. In 2004, her green world expanded to include a long-term contract with Adidas, and in 2005, crowds stormed H&M to take home a piece of her low-priced, get-'em-while-they're-hot guest collection. Tucking another faux feather into her cap, McCartney collaborated with YSL Beauté in 2007 to introduce an organic skincare line, CARE by Stella McCartney.