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Emma Hill interview

The World Of Emma Hill

She’s the Brit girl with the Midas touch, whose blend of wit, warmth and irreverence bucked the recession and turned Mulberry into a billion-pound super brand. Now at the helm of her own label, Hill & Friends, Emma Hill is back and gearing up for her next act. We caught up with the designer to find out about life after Mulberry, music and why she’s mad about baking. 

On taking time out after Mulberry…

“I decided to take time out because I’ve never really had time off. I never took a gap year and I went back to work when my son was about six weeks old. I’m Welsh, and I’ve got a proper Welsh work ethic, so it was really lovely not to be working for a change. I would have liked to have thought that I’m the kind of person that would be like: ‘Right, I’ve got a year off, I’m going to go and learn to speak Mandarin, learn all these skills and go travelling,’ but unfortunately not. My son really loved having me at home and I loved spending time with him.” 

“A good bag should feel like your best friend.”

On the appeal of accessories…

“It doesn’t matter what size you are or what your mood is: a great bag is always going to make you feel good. You can be a bit riskier with your accessories than you can be with your clothes. But you can’t really compare the two. If you left your coat in a taxi, you’d be a bit upset, but if you left your bag you’d be devastated, and not just because of the value of its contents. A good bag should feel like your best friend.”

On day-to-night dressing…

“It’s such an American thing, but I like a bag that can take me from day to night. Back in the day I used to go home and get changed and then go out – remember those days? But now our working day has been completely stretched, we need our accessories to work really hard for us.”  

On her bag collection…

“I renovated my house recently, and ended up going through my massive bag collection. I found an old Calvin Klein one I’d designed, and dragged out an old favourite I did at Marc Jacobs. Maybe it’s because they’re so personal to me, but I do think they still feel current. I have a real design thread that runs though my work. My bags are always a bit fat, a little chubby; they have curved lines and embellishment and the hardware is really important. There’s always a play on proportion: I like big things on little bags and tiny things on larger bags.” 

On her personality…

“My mum was an artist and my dad was a mathematician, so I’m a weird mix. I’m super-arty but also a super planner. I am really laidback and quite easy-going, but I can also be incredibly intense because I always want things to be perfect.” 

On baking…

“My grandparents had a bakery – Hills Bakery in Pontypridd – and my granddad taught me how to bake when I was a child. I still love it today: I’m obsessed with the Great British Bake Off. At Mulberry we became known for the food at our fashion shows. I have a theory that there’s a correlation between being friendly and feeding people. I actually made 80 biscuits for my son’s school last night. They’re graduated in colour like a rainbow and each one is a slightly different shade. I’m a crazy person when it comes to baking. I’m all about the elaborate plans and the Pantone references.” 

On music…

“I adore music. Doing the tunes for our fashion shows is one of my favourite things. There’s no real formula, but I quite like spoken books, I like a bit of funny, cartoony music, and there’s always something from the ‘70s. As a teenager I was all about music and going to gigs. I spent all of my money on vinyl. I remember when CDs came in, being like: ‘Well this is never going to catch on, who on earth is going to get rid of their vinyl?’ I think I’m quite good at predicting handbag trends, but technology, not so much.” 

Read the full interview in the February edition of the Harrods Magazine, or by downloading the digital issue of the #Harrods app – Search 'Harrods' in the App Store.

Including a Hill & Friends Happy Chain Shoulder Bag, discover our edit of London Calling Exclusives.

Catch up on the latest from the Autumn/Winter 2016 Fashion Shows.

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