As her brand new collection launches on Littlewoods, Hannah Banks-Walker caught up with Myleene Klass to find out who inspires her, what she wears on date night and what her children think of her designs.
Myleene Klass has come a long way since Hear’Say. It’s even been ten years since her name became synonymous with a white bikini during 2006’s I’m a Celebrity….Get Me Out of Here! Now, Myleene Klass is primarily a designer, focused on building her brand- although she’s quick to point out that she hasn’t jumped on the “brand-wagon.”
No, she’s been doing this for four years now, she tells me over coffee. And now, as she launches her brand new, AW16 collection for Littlewoods, she’s keen to stress that she has a hand in every aspect of the design process, from the initial moodboards to the lookbooks.
The latest range is packed with pretty dresses in floral prints, red lace and leopard print. There are leather trousers, blouses, court shoes and more leopard on fur-trimmed coats. Klass tells me she “knows her customer, inside-out,” and given that her collections regularly sell-out, I believe her.
So, how does she see her customer? And which item of clothing does she always rely on?
Hannah: Tell us about your girl, who she is and how do you see her?
Myleene: She’s bold and she wants value for money. More so than ever in the current climate we’re in. She’s fun and she likes her outfits to be daring and she definitely wants to stand out. I think fun is the key element. I always save pictures on my phone so I can show people what my girl has been wearing. Girls send me pictures of them from the races, a christening, party or night out – it’s good to see how she’s wearing it and where she’s wearing it – it gives me a good idea of what I need to make for the next collection.
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H: Which of the new pieces are your favourite?
M: I love the leopard print coat and the red dress. I love the lace detail. People are buying these pieces online so they don’t get the opportunity to touch and feel it. There’s a nice full skirt that stops at the calf, it’s practical – that’s from the mum in me. I also love the dress with pockets – I wanted the flowers to be super exaggerated. They started off smaller but I made them bigger – I really wanted them to pop. Feel these trousers– they’re proper leather! We are selling one piece every 60 seconds which is amazing.
H: Wow, that’s amazing. Do you get a lot of feedback from your customers?
M: Yes always. I get lots of questions, which I copy in the team to reply. It’s the first time people see these dresses when they go online but I’ve been seeing these dresses for months from sourcing materials to being at the fittings. It’s such a process and a real labour of love. I don’t want to fall at the final hurdle. People probably think I stamp my name and run off with the cheque but it’s not that way for me. I wouldn’t be here for my 16th season otherwise. You can’t just jump on the brand-wagon. I’ve been doing this a long time now. I challenge you to find somewhere I’m not wearing it. I live in it and I breathe it, it’s become a part of me, it’s a lifestyle choice. I wear my jeans on the school run and dresses on the red carpet. I get the biggest kick out of it. I know what I’m wearing is well made, and is only- say- £90. The tux I wore to the Ab Fab premier got so much coverage and it stood up against others that can spend whatever they want on their wardrobe.
H: How do you approach the design process?
M: It’s a case of knowing what I like, and realising it. I might not have gone to design school but I know what I want and also my grandfather worked in textiles. I’ve also always been around my mother’s sewing machine, I know how it works. There are 12 people copied into emails at any given time to ensure the process is running smoothly. We have 2 – 4 meetings every week. The devil is in the details – I know exactly where I want everything to be. I know the average size of my customer and I know her height. It gives me a better idea of knowing how I want pieces to look.
H: Do you have anyone in mind when you are designing?
M: Ultimately it’s stuff that I like to wear, it’s as simple as that. There are designers out there that don’t know what it’s like to wear their own dresses. Often it’s men designing for women. I wear mine so I know how I want it to feel and fit. Women want the clothes to do exactly want I want them to do. I’m the customer too. My little girls are my harshest critics- they tell me what they like!
H: Has your style changed since having children?
M: From the practical side, I make more things for days out. There have been huge changes in my life in the last few years and my designs have become bolder, it’s no coincidence. And it’s been my most successful collections to date. I learn a lot from my children: kids always live in the moment, they don’t think about anything else. It’s liberating to live in the now. There are no regrets, it’s a really liberating way to live. What do I want to wear now? It’s a fun way for your clothes to represent how you are feeling. My clothes are bolder because I feel bolder.
H: If you had to pick one thing to wear for the rest of your life, what would it be?
M: It would have to be leopard print, my second skin!
H: Do you have accessories you couldn’t live without?
M: Sunglasses! I wore some of mine and everyone was asking me on Twitter where they where from and they sold out.
H: How do you keep up with it all?
M: I get my stats through and I just love it!
H: Is the interaction with social media over whelming?
M: If you want the job done you get a busy woman to do it! I work at warp speed. My girls do impressions of me whizzing, racing around – it’s me. I can’t mooch. I just get it done.
H: One of the questions we get asked a lot is what to wear on a date night. What would you suggest?
M: I wore one of my black dresses on my last date night which got photographed. I would normally go for the red lace dress. Why not? Don’t go in hiding – put your cards on the table.
H: Does your family love the collection, too? Do they often wear it?
M: I tell my aunt off because she buys the collection as she can get it quicker than when I can send it to her. She’s my biggest fan. I named the bags and make-up in my collection after the strong females in my life – my friends and family. I love my girls. I understand them.
You can shop Myleene’s brand new collection at Littlewoods now.