We Heart Karen Millen

If someone asks us where to go to find a gorgeous dress that isn’t typical high street and isn’t too high end, we would have to utter two words: Karen and Millen. Founded by Kevin Stanford and Karen Millen in 1981, the duo borrowed just £100, bought some white fabric, and made shirts to sell to friends. Nearly 30 years on and they are now trading around the world and are best known for their impeccable evening wear – we could definitely think of worse ways to spend almost three decades! If you haven’t been in one of their stores or on their website lately, we really would suggest a little visit – they have amazing one shouldered, strapless, asymmetric, lace, satin, red, neutral, black, frilled, tiered, beaded and halter neck dresses (and breath) alongside stunning coats, cool jeans and must-have accessories. We wanted to delve a little more, so we caught up with the fabulous Gemma Metheringham – creative director and joint managing director.


Here’s what she had to say. Enjoy! HF: Tell us what is in store for next spring? What trends have you translated from the catwalk to your designs? Gemma: We try not to be too catwalk led, as Karen Millen has its own signature style and a studio who design and develop each piece in the range to be unique to us. At the same time we aim to be on trend enough that the influence of the key looks that appear on the catwalks will be visible in the collection. For example in our Spring collection there is a definite move to a softer neutral palette and an easing up and softening of the silhouette with lots of ruffles and draping. Corsetry and boudoir influences appear with lace, camisoles, boning and seaming detail. HF: Karen Millen, like all stores, have a particular customer profile. Who is the Karen Millen woman and how do you cater for her? Gemma: We cater for confident glamorous women who want to look effortlessly stylish. She wants to look great and stand out in a crowd. She relies on us to deliver beautifully cut and crafted clothes that will flatter her figure and help her stand tall in the world. We cater for all her wardrobe needs from the classics like sharply tailored jackets and coats, flatteringly cut jeans and knitwear and signature red carpet gowns through to fashion must haves like distressed frayed denim, washed leather biker jackets and incredible sparkly shoes to dance the night away in. HF: Your dresses focus a lot on the neckline, many being strapless. Would you say that is one of the best cuts? Gemma: Strapless styles do flatter a lot of women, and it’s a favourite evening neckline, but we also have a lot of one shoulder asymmetric styles which we believe is another important key trend, as well as tailored shift shapes with sheer georgette yoke lines for someone who likes to be more covered up. HF: What are the wardrobe essentials every woman should have for winter and summer? Gemma: Definitely an amazing tailored wool coat, probably with military or trench styling. A great white shirt is always key… looks really cool just with jeans. A washed leather jacket has become a bit of a wardrobe essential for weekends as well as adding an edgy vibe to partywear. Fabulous party shoes that make you smile… wear them with an amazing cocktail dress, or just with jeans. HF: What would you suggest for the following dilemmas: – ‘I’m a tall, curvy woman and have a winter wedding to go to. What do I wear?’ Gemma: Whatever your shape and size definitely get a great coat! Dress up a classic coat with an amazing coloured scarf, then reveal the great dress later! – ‘I love my blonde hair but some neutral tones wash me out, are there any colours you would suggest in particular?’ Gemma: Try not to go for a shade too similar to your own skin tone or you will just look naked, metallic accessories always look great with nudes, so add a great metallic belt or shoe. – ‘I’m desperately searching for a new LBD that I can wear to all different occasions. I’m 5 foot 5 and a size 8 so nothing too drowning. What’s best?’ Gemma: A couple of suggestions would be the corsetry shift dress from our March story. A very chic classic style shift with lots of seaming through the waist for an hour glass silhouette. Another option is the draped jersey dress – a really stylish easy to wear versatile dress with side draped detailing. Dress up or down and change your look with accessories, try adding a bold necklace, or gladiator sandals. HF: Accessories are now just as important as a dress or a fab top. Is matching bag and shoes still a no no? Should you go for the highest heels? Gemma: Matching is the simplest solution if you don’t want to take risks but accessorising is the fun bit and can make all the difference to an outfit so best not to take it too seriously. HF: Karen Millen is notorious for their amazing dresses. What is it the most that inspires your designs? Gemma: Almost everything and anything can inspire the team, from a great exhibition like the Viktor & Rolf of last year. A great book, a cool girl in a bar, one of the designers is also a photographer and produces amazing fairytale imagery that is inspiring. HF: Are there any plans for Karen Millen Men?? Gemma: No plans but you will be the first to know

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