There's no catwalk conspiracy against me, says Stella McCartney

Gucci's golden girl calls off fashion witch-hunt, denying claims that jealous rivals are out to destroy her

Stella McCartney - the Gucci designer, darling of the celebrity A-list and daughter of Sir Paul - took the highly unusual step of issuing a denial, through The Independent on Sunday, that she was the victim of a conspiracy conducted by jealous rivals in the fashion industry.

The latest twist in the designer's career comes at the end of a "difficult" few weeks, which culminated three days ago in reports that a public relations company had been hired by Gucci to seek out anyone spreading bile about their star player.

Until October, McCartney was a figure largely unsullied by the gossip and rivalries endemic in the industry. Most of her designs have attracted lavish praise and are worn by much of film and music's elite, including her close friends Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow. Demi Moore, Cate Blanchett and Pamela Anderson, are also part of her inner circle.

Now, however, even the furiously over-the-top world of fashion must be having to pinch itself.

McCartney has been on the receiving end of an unprecedented series of personal attacks that last week culminated in feverish speculation about a "hate campaign" against her and doubts over the commercial viability of her business. She told the IoS yesterday that she wanted to distance herself from reports that Brunswick, a top PR firm, had been hired by Gucci to search for malcontents.

"I do not believe there is a conspiracy against me," she said, breaking a protracted silence on the recent unpleasantness. "I am not represented by Brunswick PR, and therefore surprised by this current situation."

It was a terse though rare statement and one that will do little to quell the frenzy of off-catwalk conspiracy theorising. This may have much to do with the sheer breadth of the cast-list that has made McCartney's woes one of the most curiously compelling shows in town.

Trouble began in October, when the designer Jeff Banks derailed her jolt-free run-up to Paris Fashion Week by calling her clothes designs "amateurish" and putting her success down to "pedigree" rather than talent. Mr Banks's remarks were reported widely, and followed the revelation that McCartney, 32, had been paid £6m by Gucci for a 50 per cent stake in her fashion company, Stella McCartney Ltd, in April 2001. Her salary was put at more than £700,000. McCartney's designs sell for between £250 and £1,000 each.

Last week, however, Mr Banks was eager to clarify his now notorious critique of McCartney. "I got misquoted," he told the IoS. "What I meant was that the presentation of her work on the night [the British Designer of the Year Award] was amateurish, it looked cheapand cheerful."

However, he stood by his comments about McCartney's name having helped on her fashion career.

In November, McCartney lost her key patron in the industry when Tom Ford - chief designer at Gucci, friend of her father, Sir Paul McCartney, and the man who brought both her and the designer Alexander McQueen to the company - announced that he was to leave the firm.

Then, last week, the accounts of McCartney's firm came under scrutiny when it was revealed that her company had lost £4.5m in the year to January 2003, which was double the losses of the previous year. Most worrying, sales of McCartney designs netted her company a meagre £434,000.

At the same time, the 19-year-old model Elizabeth Jagger - daughter of Sir Mick - joined the ruck, saying that McCartney was "lazy in her design". She added: "She's a bit full-on for me. She treats me like a sister. I hate that rock-chick vibe. I just don't hang out with other kids of rock stars."

Last week, however, the industry appeared to be closing ranks around McCartney. "The British have a complicated relationship to success," said Sally Singer, of the fashion bible US Vogue.

"They want to cut down to size anyone who seems glamorous, and Stella - with her father especially - is the biggest in line for that. Everyone's sales are down. It's a tough sector."

"The fact is she has done her training," said Nicola Wood, of the trade journal Draper's. "She does have talent. Gucci doesn't pick up someone just because of a name. It's still early days for her company."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge show their newly-born daughter, their second child, to the media outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in central London, on 2 May 2015.
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before