Going loco for Boho
Designer Savannah Miller brings her signature boho look to a new lingerie range, and she couldn't be more excited, she tells our fashion editor
"This is like a dream come true for me, I love lingerie," says Savannah Miller as she tenderly handles the first delivery of her new lingerie range which arrives into Debenhams stores on February 15.
Savannah was first propelled into our fashion spectrum when, together with her actress sister, Sienna, they launched Twenty8Twelve, acting as creative directors on the licensing deal collaboration with Pepe which ended in 2012.
The 37-year-old mother-of-three is now back on our style radar, and in our wardrobes again since she debuted her Nine by Savannah Miller clothing range for Debenhams last year. Now, for season two, comes some very cute, relaxed clothing in memorable colours plus shoes and undies.
"I find the whole underwear as outwear trend amazing and I love nothing more than a beautiful silk slip under a chunky knit jumper - the juxtaposition between the soft and the coarse is really sensual, " says Savannah who was born in New York and lives in the heart of the English countryside in Stroud, Gloucestershire.
Doting mum to Moses, Lyra and Bali aged nine to four, in 2005, Miller married Nick Skinner, an eco builder and teacher of Bushcraft from Devon. They moved the family to Panama in 2013 but their adventure came to an end after Moses was injured in a boating accident.
I grabbed the opportunity to meet Savannah during a recent visit to London. The Miller girls were always known for their boho chic and with renewed zeal, she is back at the fashion drawing table. For SS16 she has created a number of boho-esque pieces including an edge-to-edge beaded jacket for the woman who "might have travelled the world in her younger days and wants to bring boho into her life, and the office, but does not want to look ridiculous."
Armed with a First Class Degree in Fashion and Knitwear from Central St Martins, it is clear during our chat that Savannah has a firm grasp of the high street. Delving into the world of lingerie, she knows all about how much a woman's body can change.
"I've been a size 8, 10, 12, 14 and everything in between. After having a baby, my boobs went up to an F cup and my ribs widened when I had children," she says with the knowing smile of a woman who has seen it all.
Looking through the finished bras with their lovely lace and a clever three-seamed cup that gives a lovely round shape, Savannah says "the bras fit beautifully and there's a lot of structure and padding and everything in place so you feel very held by it and thus, the silhouette you achieve when you wear the clothes is more defined." Her objective in doing the range was, she admits, "more about the woman feeling good about herself.
"If you put on a matching set of underwear, there is nothing really more thrilling and I think it's hard to achieve that expensive look at a high street price point, so I'm really pleased with what we've done. Have you seen it?"
And so we dive into the rails and examine the 27 lingerie and 20 sleepwear pieces. There are seven bra styles, two black bodies, a chemise and throw-on kimono-style jacket that screams 'take me out during the daytime'. And speaking of matching sets, does Savannah wear sets of underwear?
"Are you kidding? I have three children, I don't have a set of anything," she laughs. "I have a couple of sets that were given to me as gifts and occasionally they will miraculously come together."
Family is very important to Savannah and the photo (below right) shows Savannah and her sister Sienna, who is three years younger, with their mother, retired South African model, Josephine Miller,(pictured on the extreme right). In the centre is interior designer and 'Queen of Taupe,' Kelly Hoppen who was later married to Savannah's father, Ed Miller - an investment banker turned American dealer in Chinese art who has since remarried and runs a retreat in the Virgin Islands. The sisters have two half-brothers and a half-sister and they are still close to Hoppen who is a major fan of Savannah's clothes and her comfy suede moccasins which have a fan club all of their own.
"At college, students dream of having their own label but I was never that person," says Savannah. "I worked for Alexander McQueen while I was at school and I was working every hour that God sent. I banged Alexander McQueen's door down, I phoned every day and eventually they were like: 'Oh OK, come and be an intern.'"
Within six months, Savannah was his PA and she says of McQueen: "His mind never stopped and he was such an inspiration. I would go out for lunch with him and he would be drawing all over the napkins, he was a complete genius."
One half of the Miller sister duo, Savannah was well on her way in the fashion world before Sienna's breakout film role as Daniel Craig's love interest in Matthew Vaughn's Layer Cake in 2004.
Given that Debenhams is so good on the homewares front and that Savannah is crafty and loves making cushions and things for her home, would she consider moving sideways into that sphere? And maybe children's clothes too ?
"I would love to do homeware. This brand is a lifestyle brand and I know what this woman wants to have in her home - it's that relaxed, casual bohemian glamour. She wants to have a beautiful linen sofa, she might have an Indian-y cushion on it - it's that 'collected and found' thing, objects that are not necessarily mass."
In the fashion world, Savannah is friends with designers Patrick Grant and Ben de Lisi and the three have returned from a trip to Russia for the opening of a new Debenhams store. "It was hysterical because they are both really funny. I've known Ben de Lisi since I was 15, he's a very good friend of my step mother, Kelly and he was always giving me advice in his Brooklyn drawl. Uncle Ben we call him."
Other friends in the rag trade include Matthew Williamson and also Christopher Kane and Erdem with whom she went to the opening of an Annie Leibovitz exhibition in Wapping.
When she is not working or spending time with her kids, Savannah might be found at an exercise class. "I love yoga and I've recently got into fitness because my back kept going out over the summer. What a rush you get when you have a really good workout. This is a totally new concept to me aged 37. It's completely ridiculous, I've only just discovered exercise - got there in the end."
Discussing changing wardrobe patterns, Savannah doesn't believe that 'her woman' is putting clothes away at the end of winter and bringing them out for summer. "I just don't think she has the time. I like things in my wardrobe that can move easily from season to season with a bit of layering."
When she grabs a free hour, Savannah "loves shopping and browsing in the stores. I love going to Liberty (in London's Regent Street) because I think they edit so beautifully, the buyers are so sensitive there."
This new face in the world of lingerie design enthuses about dressing from the inside out. "If you are wearing some beautiful lingerie, I personally feel more put together than if I'm wearing some old bra that's been in the wrong wash and has gone grey. It does not happen every day of the week by any stretch of the imagination but actually, there is something lovely and nourishing for me feeling that I've beautiful lingerie on."
Now with her own lingerie range to delve into, all that should change for Savannah Miller.
Did you know? Savannah Miller in focus
Savannah's Debenhams collection is named after her lucky number and it also relates to her daughter's name, Lyra, a constellation that shines most brightly at 9pm.
She designs a capsule bridal collection of six dresses for Stone Fox Bride in New York.
She wears two medals, a St Francis and St Christopher, gifts from her mother when she went to university and from Sienna when she went travelling.
Her music tastes are "quite eclectic. I like a lot of female folk singers and I'm into The Staves, who are three sisters. I'm obsessed with those guys. I've seen them live about five times. I also love hip hop and rap so I listen to that if I'm designing and want to feel a little attitude."
She lives on a farm and has embraced alkaline eating due to an ulcer.
She is a doula - a holistic midwife - and does a little prenatal coaching for friends.
Savannah loves stars so don't be surprised when they will turn up in prints on her clothes and lingerie. Born on December 30, 1978, she was born with the Moon in Capricorn and says "I'm as Capricorn as they come."