Preview of Milli Millu S/S14 collection

Fashion world never stand still and that is part of its allure. When brands that you like introduce new collections or pieces it is truly exciting, especially when you don’t know what to expect every time. As London was becoming colder and thoughts were turning to Christmas preparations, I went to Milli Millu boutique for a sneak preview of the brand’s Spring/Summer 2014 collection.

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In addition to the existing favourites like The Milan,

The
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Milli Millu-a bag brand to keep an eye for!

Of all the things that ‘reside’ in my wardrobe and closet, I think I have the closest affinity with bags (sorry clothes, scarves, shoes, belts, hats, underwear, jewellery) and when I get on the wrong side of my mum, she actually goes as far, as saying that I have a’ bag sickness’.

To be fair, I do have a few bags but ever since I was a young lady, I was always choosy about the ones I actually bought-it wasn’t only the price that was a consideration, but the timeless stylishness factor that was always important for me. I never buy the latest IT bag as I want the bag that appeals to me, fits into my lifestyle, says something about my style sense  and has the ‘staying power’. Hopefully one day my daughter will choose to use them too and love them as part of her ‘fashion’ heritage.

My first serious, beautiful bag was a gift from my late father when I was 16 and it was bought at Russell & Bromley (not Chanel or Hermes that many Russian parents choose to buy for their young offspring-seriously, if you start with Chanel, what’s there to strive for?). It looked like a ‘take’ on the Christian Dior‘s and Tod‘s D bags, named after princess Diana-quilted, a la Chanel, black, with gold keyring hanging on the side of one of the handles and I felt so chic and grown-up, having it on my arm-it still lives in the cupboard and when I take it out, I smile and think of my Father and how important and formative he was and still is in my life.

As years have gone by, my collection slowly expanded, mostly comprising large bags (I do carry a lot of staff with me) but of course I haveMillimillu smaller ones and clutches too, for nights out. Lately though, looking at the prices that the likes of Louis Vuitton or Balenciaga or Gucci charge for their wares, I feel almost stoic in my refusal to succumb to their charms, unless their are in sales-what used to cost you £200 or £300 pounds 15 years ago, costs close to a £1,000 now and it’s not the cost of materials or inflation, it’s the profit margins of the brands that has grown exponentially due to demand from Russia, China or the Arab countries but mercifully, there are exceptions to the rule and you won’t have to compromise on the quality or stylishness factor either.

Just after my summer holiday this year, having returned to London and feeling the urge to get immersed into the fashion feel for the coming season, I made an appointment at Rousiland showroom, to look at their new collections and pieces in stock. When I came in, I noticed the bags that they haven’t stocked before and my eyes started racing. The ones that drew my particular attention were a beautiful red one, the beige/pink shoulder bag, that had a Chanel like chain and an unusual buckle, a cute three-coloured clutch and a very lush black bag that reminded me a little of the one in Celine’s collection-they all stood out in terms of quality and style and while I couldn’t buy all of them, I did succumb to the charms of the one called The Monte Carlo (the beige/pink with a two-way chain).

The bags came from a brand called Milli Millu, which was started in 2010 by a beautiful Spanish woman, based in London, who looks like  a model butMireia has a very astute business brain as well, called Mireia Llusia Lindh. The brand’s name is a combination of letters from Mireia Llusia’s name-she said to me that she wanted to have a brand that would sound like a fashion brand, yet feel a little personal to her too.

Mireia Llusia is a very unusual young woman-she was raised in Barcelona, where she studied at University and worked as a management consultant, then moved to London to work in banking and if the work didn’t keep her busy enough, she also managed to do an MBA in Harvard-whoever thinks that a woman can’t be beautiful and accomplished is sooo off the mark!

The interesting thing is that Mireia Llusia not only liked fashion ( I told you she looks like a model, so no surprise there) but she was always discussing bags with friends and colleagues, as while you might choose to work in what’s considered a male dominated sector, you want to retain your femininity and having the right bag to serve both your professional and personal needs. However, one often struggles to find a stylish and practical bag that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg and could also take you to the office and then our for dinner or party or client event in the evening. Mireia Llusia’s passion for fashion and design wasn’t getting a creative outlet at work, even though she tried to specialise in retail banking, and her thoughts seemed to trail back to an internship that she did at LVMH between her first and second years of doing an MBA. The fact that no-one in her family was entrepreneurial weighted heavily on her mind and her  family gently questioned her reasoning about going to fashion and leaving the relative safety of banking and a steady income behind, while stepping into the unknown. But, as often in life, fate intervened and when Mireia Llusia got pregnant with her daughter, she thought to herself that it was ‘now or never’ and took the plunge, launching Milli Millu with eight bag styles in 2010.

Every season she adds more styles, keeping the best-selling ones (be it style or colour), changing the leather texture and colours and adding more though-out, practical and interesting details. Milli Millu was launched online ( so ‘I can reach the customers around the world more effectively’ says Mireia Llusia), as it made more sense and was more cost effective than opening a free standing shop, especially as she sells in London, Switzerland and Scandinavian countries particularly well and launching in Holland soon.

When she approached the big stores, likes Harrods or Selfridges,they didn’t get her idea (their bag floor layout tends to be quite segmented i.e. luxury, designer bags or functional/travel/laptop type of bag) of a luxurious but niche brand with the price point between £200 and £500 and an added bonus of a well-thought out functionality.

As Mireia Llusia was heavily pregnant when I was interviewing her (her second daughter in due any moment now) and went to Barcelona for a couple of months, I was quite content to use e-mail and phone as a means of communication and have to say that latter stages of pregnancy didn’t slow this feminine powerhouse at all, as she speedily replied to my e-mails and talked numbers and precision points without missing a beat, making me smile in the knowledge that with the right approach a woman can manage to be a spouse, a mother and a career woman, if she chooses to.

Mireia Llusia takes her brand very seriously and is meticulous in her attention to detail, the quality ofMilliMillu2 her bags and the fact that each bag that she designs and sells is unique. She tells me that in Spain you really don’t have middle ground with bag brands, you either have expensive, luxurious ones, like Loewe or Carolina Herrera or cheap ones. Mireia Llusia did a lot of research prior to her launch and found a wonderful factory in Spain (Spaniards are famous for the quality of the leather goods that they produce-I never hesitate to buy a pair of shoes made in Italy or Spain as I know that they will last a long time and will only look more beautiful as they age) that has a strong and long tradition of leather manufacturing. Mireia Llusia is motivated by her attention to style, rather than the term ‘collection’ and always has her customers in mind when she works on the actual designs that go in production. When the new collection launches, she examines the sales and tries to get as much feedback as she can form the sales people and her customers, each time trying to answer a question ‘what’s missing’ in terms of the functionality, so she can integrate new ideas in her future designs.

The inspiration behind each bag can come from anywhere, a beautiful view, a piece of fabric or a shoe that catches her eye and Mireia Llusia also goes to the fair in Bologna, in Italy, twice a year to look. She discusses the pre-collection with the buyers, takes on board their feedback and then launches the final, edited collection.

When I looked at the  current look book, I couldn’t help myself but make a wish for quite a few of those bags, because they do catch your eye, they serve you well and I have been stopped both in London and in Europe with a question ‘where did you get that bag’ addressed to my

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Star bag

jigsawThis past year, like any before it, gave us many fashionable trends, some realistic, some not at all so, some that will linger and some that will disappear without trace.

One of those trends with a staying power has been the star motive on clothes and accessories-just think about the latest Ugg collaboration with Jimmy Choo as a latest example.

My own ‘downfall’ arrived in the form of a Jigsaw bag that I glimpsed on a page of a magazine . Jigsawis not a shop that I pop into often, mainly because the styles don’t suit either my shape or my style, but as they say, many people, many opinions, and thank god for that.

I popped into my local branch but unfortunately they were sold out of the ‘Star Cluster tote bag’ that I was looking for, but the sales person, a pretty and very sweet girl called Emily, suggested that she calls another store, to see if they had it, especially as they had a 50% off bags promotion that weekend.

I am not going to bore you with the long story of how I got my hands on that bag, but let me just say that Emily turned out to be a sales superstar, diligent and efficient, who actually went out of her way to acquire this particular bag for me. 

It is stylish and beyond trends, I wear it either on my shoulder or slotted across, if I want my hands to be free, it fits many things in but best of all, it makes me smile. And that is not a bad look to be walking about with .)