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Stella and Mary McCartney on how their family memories inspire their creativity

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Working with a family member can be a risky move, but when you’re the McCartney sisters, it just makes sense.

Drawing on their shared history of younger years spent in Scotland, fashion designer Stella and photographer Mary have teamed up with whisky brand The Macallan to design TOGETHER: A Collection for The Macallan by Stella and Mary McCartney, a lifestyle collection that complements the spirit’s heritage. Think chic homeware, a ceramic flask, brass pieces and a cosy blanket to wrap up in when the party inevitably moves outside.

To mark this collaboration – a first for the sisters – we caught up with Stella and Mary to hear more about what it was like designing these luxury pieces with the legendary distillery, as well as what family holidays in the Scottish landscape were like and how those memories have directly shaped their careers.

Your connection to Scotland is deep-rooted – can you tell me more about that?

Stella: We grew up spending a lot of time in a small Scottish farmhouse in the middle of nowhere with only our parents, our siblings and nature for company. When the Beatles broke up, we basically moved there. It’s the place Mary and I return to to remember the happiest moments of our childhood. It inspired everything.

Mary: When I first visited The Macallan estate in Moray, the surroundings took me right back to the time when we really bonded; the two of us just wandering around as children, daydreaming.

Mary McCartney

S: Mary and I are only two years apart, so we share the same memories – of rocks, streams, horses and countryside smells. It was our escape. Individually, these memories have been a huge influence in our careers, so to come back together and use them as the driving inspiration for our collaboration with The Macallan has been effortless.

M: Through this partnership we feel like we’re honouring our sisterhood and our creativity, as well as The Macallan’s history.

Working with a sibling can sometimes be challenging. What was it like working together?

M: There’s always been a sisterly competitiveness between us, but when Mum passed away, a lot of that went by the wayside. As we’ve grown and had families of our own, we appreciate and love each other more than ever. Working together, we complement each other.

“As sisters, there’s a shortcut in the way we speak to each other”

S: We worked together on Mum’s vegetarian food brand [Linda McCartney], and Mary has shot some of my best fashion campaigns. With previous projects, we’ve played different roles – I do the design and Mary does the photography – so there’s no conflict. With this latest project, I thought we’d fall into our usual patterns but I was pleasantly surprised by how much Mary got involved in the actual product design, from the finishings to the colours.

M: As sisters, there’s a shortcut in the way we speak to each other – we don’t need to verbalise a lot of things. We have similar tastes too. We grew up in an artistic family, visiting museums and seeing beautiful artwork at home. We wanted this to be about collaboration – both us as sisters, but also reflecting the partnership between Scotland and The Macallan.

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Mary McCartney

Can you tell me a little bit about the TOGETHER collection?

M: We wanted it to represent a home bar, with the accessories symbolic of our relationship. The glasses are round at the bottom and square at the top. To me, the circle reflects Stella and her circularity in the way she works with fashion; the square is representative of my photographic composition.

We’ve integrated the amber colour to represent the whisky and green for the nature on The Macallan estate. Even the blanket is based on the reflection of leaves in the lake. We’re always thinking about the narrative, the story and the “why”.

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Mary McCartney

The Macallan Ceramic Flask with Apple Leather Sleeve designed by Stella and Mary McCartney

Sustainability is in the McCartney DNA – how does that translate into these pieces?

S: I’ve been working with [sustainable] materials for 25 years. The fact that we now have technologies and innovators who are making faux leathers out of apple skins – a technique used for this collection – is so exciting. But it’s still incredibly hard. It’s the most challenging way of working but also the most inspiring and important.

M: Everything is handmade. The amber hue is a drop of titanium in the glass process. The third colour in the collection is The Macallan red, a burgundy, so the ceramicists came up with a special red for us that doesn’t contain lead.

S: We were very conscious of the materialisation of the colours of the products. We wanted to celebrate human touch, so we worked with the best artisans and craftspeople. We’re keen on infiltrating from within, so whenever we get the opportunity to collaborate with manufacturers, we show them these cleaner, alternative ways of working. Now they know they can eradicate lead completely from their process, or use faux leathers instead.

M: One of the hallmarks for the McCartney family is that we’re not perfect or righteous. We want to have fun while being respectful of nature.


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Visit themacallan.com to discover the TOGETHER: A Collection for The Macallan by Stella and Mary McCartney

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