Designer Stella McCartney introduces her first-ever optical line, a perfect vision to complement her well-established sunwear and fashion collections. The contemporary and eco-friendly eyewear is shaded with elements of her lauded lines and highlighted by the designer’s refined and recognizable energy. Get the details from the rock ’n’ runway royalty herself as she gives 20/20 the inside scoop.
—Breanna Benz

20/20: We have already experienced the evolution of your sunwear collection. How does this new collection of eyewear relate to that, in terms of trends, style shapes and eyewear appeals to women?
Stella McCartney: This collection builds on the classics and the tradition of optical and eyewear, but adding in a tiny sense of humour. Bringing in a masculine side to the feminine optical and looking at materials in a slightly different way, looking at lenses, at our colour palette, looking at our ready-to-wear colours and bringing them into the eyewear collection, and developing our own colours. It’s really about working with classic and timeless shapes that complement the face and the rest of what you are wearing; we really tried to take that into account as well. We are trying to look at this as part of the brand as a whole.

Fashion branding is a big part of women’s eyewear. What does your particular vision of eyewear bring to optical, in a way that is different from everything else?

With the branding side of things we try to keep it fairly simple and not too obtrusive, but at the same time have a subtle recognition, which I think is important in eyewear. We are trying to keep it as simple as possible, but at the same time have a little twist.

You obviously wear sunglasses. Do you also wear optical frames? If so, what do you look for in the frames you wear?
I don’t wear optical frames, but since I have been working on them it has made me want to wear optical.

When it comes to accessories in general, what are your feelings about how they extend the identity of the brand?
For me it has to be the same language, the same emotion. You have to create timeless, desirable, stunning pieces, made with the best skills. And for me that complements very much what I do elsewhere in the brand. Accessories are a big part of making a statement in a very easy way; introducing colour and technique, but also the point of difference is in the use of hardware and material. Obviously we don’t work with leather or fur, so that’s a huge statement for us ethically, and we try to do accessories in a sustainable way which really ties into the general ethos of the brand.

Why now for optical frames? And in context of that, could you reflect on your partnership and collaboration with Luxottica?
I don’t think optical and sunwear are even so separated anymore. There used to be a time where if you had to wear optical, you were forced to wear very unfashionable pieces—pieces that didn’t complement your wardrobe or your way of living and your sense of style. So for me they have become more and more just one language. There is a big trend in taking the lenses out of sunglasses and using them as optical, or using optical when you don’t even need them. For me they are one kind of artistic voice.

You have great connection to pop culture. Can you put your role as a designer into the context of popular culture relating to books, music and cinema? And how does it relate to you and your brand?
I think it’s part of what I do every day. In my life I am surrounded by those kinds of things so it’s just part of how I work, how I create. I’ve always been very instinctive about how I work, so just soaking up the culture around me and living in a city like London, you are constantly fed with other forms of creative. It’s a huge part of how I am and how I work.