The Creative Class: An Interview with Milly Jean Wall, Fashion Design Student at Ravensbourne University

Milly Jean Wall

I met Milly two and a half years ago at a Fashion Styling short course, at Central Saint Martins’ Farringdon campus. It was August, and I remember bonding with her over a pair of Zara sparkly white platform sandals she was wearing that day.

Hey! I’m Elisa! I just wanted to tell you that I love your platforms, they’re really cool!” I mumbled, looking more at her feet than her face.

Hi! So nice to meet you! I’m Milly! Thank you so much! I actually bought them recently, they’re from Zara, so if you want to buy them you can find them in any shop here in London! Oh…by the way, I love your style too…” she chirped excitedly in her high-pitched British accent, smiling like a Cheshire cat.

We didn’t talk that much during the short course as we were separated into two different groups, but when we left, we followed each other on Instagram attracted by each other’s aspirations and personalities. I then went off to finish my last year of high school in Italy, and she did the same in England.

Tonight I’m meeting Milly at Casse-Croute, a vintage French gem just off Bermondsey Street in South London. As we sit down at our table, an attractive French waiter salutes her, and she murmures blushingly: “I totally have a crush on him! He is so gorgeous!” There must be a reason why she comes here all the time! Whilst we sip on our red wine and nibble on some cheese, she tells me about her life before moving to London “I grew up in the countryside, and went to boarding school in the middle of nowhere, so the hills were my sanctuary, but when I moved to London, everything changed.”

Fashion had always somehow been part of her life, weaving its magical power through her family’s influence. “My mum is so effortless and stylish she just always looks lovely when going out of the house, and my grandma still goes out for a walk with her tweed jacket on. And now that I’m learning to design, we are asked who are you designing for? And I think it is for people like my gorgeous mommy: effortlessly elegant, with confidence and personality.” And you can clearly see that, as Milly presents herself as a modern ‘English Rose’, with a passion for volume, sparkle, but most importantly an obsession for pink, and for men who wear pink.

Milly modeling on the first dresses designed at Ravensbourne

Pink being a color that won’t go unnoticed and which will most certainly make a statement, has been center of her obsession since she discovered this particular shade of the color, which she describes as “a purer version of a dusky pink, very Dior” on a specific flower that the Royal Flower Company released a few years ago. Her obsession with pink even brought to exhaustion her course leader, who sick and tired of hearing her rave about this ultra feminine color, decided to push her to explore all of the shades of pink she hated. Starting from the David Lachapelle pink “too vulgar”, and moving on to Schiaparelli pink “too out there”, to hot pink “not into the ‘Legally Blonde’ vibe” and last but not least, the Diana Vreeland pink “not too keen on that!” she embarked on a journey which lead her to research also about what this specific color represents in fashion nowadays.

Being an English Rose with a passion for femininity and frill, it does not come as a surprise that one of her favorite designers is Joseph Font, the enfant prodige of the house of Delpozo, making wonders at New York Fashion Week. Creating unique and feminine pieces for the contemporary woman, Joseph Font is creating traditional and modern, organic and architectural, sumptuous and pure silhouettes for the house. “I really think that at the moment he’s creating such a new, modern feminine Dior silhouette. How amazing would he be there? The shapes he’s creating are so modern! He’s like a feminine McQueen!” she gushes, looking back at his recent Fall Winter collection for the house of Delpozo.

The “Shirt Project”

In comparison to her ‘Emilia Wickstead’ persona, it does come as a surprise that she’ll be moving to Antwerp for a semester to intern at AF Vandervost. “When I attended the interview, Philipp asked me why I wanted to come to Antwerp as there’s so much fashion in London. And I said I wanted to learn it now from the absolute purest form” she tells me excited, knowing to have aced that interview. It will be an interesting challenge, as she’ll be able to understand how a real design house works from the perspective of a production team, as well as test herself in observing how someone with a completely different aesthetic to hers works.

But what does really make a successful and credible fashion designer? That’s the big question which students just like Milly should be asking them selves everyday, especially if they want to work in a design team or open up their own label. “I think that a successful designer is just completely sure of itself, being totally certain of who they’re designing for, but they should also have taste. I think a lot of fashion is about taste, and sometimes taste is lost to what is trendy,” she tells me. But how can you be original if everyone has already designed everything? It’s so hard to make something look new and exciting, but Milly isn’t worrying too much about it. “I think my course is so focused on the individual, and a complete unique design identity. I feel absolutely no pressure to go into creative direction. I just thought that if I did a degree in design, I’d just learn it from its roots. And then I’ll just see where it’ll take me!” she says, whilst showing me some of her designs in one of her many little Moleskine sketchbooks, carefully labeled with her name.

Milly sips from her wine glass and smirks with the confidence of a young female creative who knows what she wants. She doesn’t seem concerned with what the future will hold for her, for now, and I’m curious how her career will unfold with time.

Aspiring Fashion Editor originally from Milan, Italy, but working and studying in London. Fashion Mess.