Former reality TV star Millie Mackintosh founded her eponymous label three years ago, and it is now stocked by Asos and Very Exclusive. Drapers caught up with Millie to discover the secrets behind the brand.
Millie Mackintosh made her first fashion steps gracing the streets of London in the reality TV show Made in Chelsea. Since leaving the show, she has turned her hand to fashion, founding her eponymous brand in 2014. Millie now boasts more than 1.3m followers on Instagram and the brand is sold by 30 retailers worldwide including Asos, Very Exclusive and Diffusion, as well as Excelsior in Milan and Beymen in Istanbul. She spoke to Drapers about her love for London and how she fulfilled her fashion aspirations from a young age.
10 20161219 millie mackintosh look 006 242
What inspired you to get started as a designer?
I think it all started with my dressing-up box as a child – playing dress-up was my favourite game. By the time I reached secondary school, my love for fashion had grown into wanting to learn and understand the process of creating something. I was fortunate that at school we were taught to sew on machines and I remember the first garment I made from a pattern. I felt so proud of myself and my new fleece dressing gown. This is where it all really began for me. Before I knew it the fever had taken over and I was making dresses for friends and sewing in my school name tapes in the neck of each one to act as a label.
How would you describe the aesthetic of the MillieMackintosh brand?
Rebellious, British, feminine – dresses and tailoring are the core of my collection, complemented by blouses, jackets, skirts and exclusive prints (wholesale prices range from £38 to £130).
12 20161219 millie mackintosh look 007 016
How do you think the brand has evolved since you started out?
I feel it has evolved with me. When I first started the line three years ago, I was 25. I’m now turning 28 and I feel a big difference in myself, which in turn resonates through to my brand.
Where do you find your inspiration for the collection?
I pick up inspiration anywhere and everywhere. I find those moments occur in the simplest of ways, when you’re running around living your day-to-day life. The colour of a flower or the slight off-blue of the sky on a particular day could inspire the palette for a whole season – trying to find the Pantone colour you saw can be tricky! Travel and culture is a huge influence. Embroidery, textiles and patterns are so personal to their environment, so I really love to venture into local markets and find hidden treasures when visiting different countries. I’m constantly taking pictures and banking them in shared folders so the team in London can access them and start to build an outline for the next collection as we go along.
04 20161219 millie mackintosh look 002 132
You have a pretty impressive social following. What’s your favourite platform and why?
It would have to be Instagram. I post stories and images daily. I like to share what I’m up to, and it’s also a great way of inviting my costumer in to my world so they feel part of the brand and the creative process that takes place.
You’re involved in a lot of different projects alongside your fashion brand – you blog on fitness, food and have published a book. How do you balance everything you do?
I have to be very disciplined with my diary entries. When I immerse myself into other projects I like to be a 100% committed, so I’m mindful in my choices, but also relish the opportunity to work in different mediums.
What are some of your favourite hideaways in the city?
Notting Hill has recently become my new love affair – melting pot with a village vibe. Sunday walks through Richmond Park followed by a delicious roast at Petersham Nurseries always leaves me feeling refreshed and relaxed for the week ahead.
What’s the best business advice you’ve ever been given?
Nothing worth having comes easy.
Favourite clothing brand
It changes from season to season, but I do have a real fondness for French designers and brands. From Givenchy and Yves Saint Laurent to the elegance of Chloé, Isabel Marant and Agnès B. Parisian sophistication, which of course wouldn’t be complete without Dior and Chanel. Karl Lagerfeld is an incredible visionary
Favourite places to shop
One Vintage for inspiration, Zara, Maje, Sandro, Dover Street Market. Colette is a must (in Paris) and, most recently, I’ve loved the pop-up at the Bluebird (Kings Road, London). It’s filled with wonderful delights and amazing Brazilian Designers
Last fashion purchase
An oriental print dressing gown from Zara
South of France for the amazing Cannes Film Festival amfAR Gala. I love the Rivera: I feel like I’ve been transported back to old Hollywood
Last book you read
Maestra by LS Hilton
Last film you watched
Passengers – I’m not much of a sci-fi fan but I have a big girl crush on Jennifer Lawrence.
I was a waitress for two days. I had very shaky hands!
A food and hotel critic
What would we find you doing at the weekend?
Baking banana bread in my PJs and catching up on my favourite series or searching for vintage in Portobello