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You - 2021-06-06

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OUR PICK OF SAVANNAH’S COLLECTION

YOU INTERVIEW

undiagnosed postnatal depression, Savannah’s mental health took a further battering when her son Moses was seriously injured after getting stuck in the propeller of a boat the family were using to tour a nature reserve. The little boy was operated on in the local hospital without anaesthetic. A combination of a baby who didn’t sleep, separation from her family and the trauma of Moses’s accident left Savannah suffering from panic attacks. Fearing she was having a nervous breakdown, she sought therapy in New York and – shortly afterwards – they left Panama for good. On reflection, however, she is grateful for this ‘bump in the road’ (she’s heavily into gratitude) because it taught her that even the really tough bits of life are survivable. Back home in the UK, she regained her physical and emotional strength and struck a deal with Debenhams for a new collection, Nine (so called because the constellation Lyra – which her eldest daughter is named after – shines brightest at 9pm). There followed five years of success, which garnered Savannah a loyal high-street fan base. In 2016 she also launched an eponymous bridalwear business, which has proved robust enough to survive a year where – in the UK, at least – there weren’t many brides. The pandemic, however, did punch a hole in Savannah’s design portfolio when Debenhams hit the skids. Although legal restrictions prevent her from talking about exactly what happened – specifically how much money she lost when the ship went down – she was clearly hit hard. ‘All I can say is that when a company goes into administration, it’s fairly obvious what happens to the people who are left behind. And, as anyone who has been through this will attest… it’s not fun. Especially at the beginning of a pandemic.’ However, having picked herself up before, she knew how to do it again, this time signing with Next. So Twenty8twelve, Nine… this collection has to have a numerical name, right? ‘I tried!’ she laughs. ‘I tried Nine again, but they said, “Look, it’s about you, let’s just call it Savannah Miller.”’ So Savannah Miller it is, and it launches this Thursday. Its creator, while a little nervous (‘I always sweat the small stuff, get myself in a real flap’), is also confident that you’re going to love it as much as she does. ‘Because it’s my name, there’s something about it that feels much more like I have to own it. There’s no hiding behind my sister or another label. It’s just me doing what I do. I’ve got to this point, at 42 years old, where I know what I want to do, and I feel good about it. It’s not rocket science, but I do know what women want to wear.’ That – as you’ll see later this week – is a collection of more than 40 lines for summer 2021, including clothing, swimwear and nightwear. The focus is on flattering fits, soft fabrics, pretty prints and denim that looks like ‘it might have been in your cupboard for 20 years’. Unsurprisingly, there is a definite flick of boho in there. The fact that Savannah still has the figure to model the vintage-inspired cutoffs – at the age of 42 and after three children – would be galling if she were not so genuinely thrilled about the whole thing. ‘Initially, I was talking to them about underwear and pyjamas because I had a really loyal customer base for those,’ she says excitedly. ‘It was right in the middle of the pandemic, so I said we should be doing loungewear as that was all anyone was wearing. Then we added in swim and beach and the denim team saw my boards and said, “We want in.” So, if you’ve got denim, then, what are we going to wear with it? Lovely print tops, and if we’ve got the tops in then we may as well have dresses and…’ She’s run out of breath. ‘I’m very Capricorn. If I had my way, I’d be designing childrenswear and homeware… and architecture!’ A Savannah Miller house? That’s a thought. What would that look like? ‘Well, I’ll have to get back to you because we’re trying to move right now but Stroud is getting gentrified, and everything is going to sealed bids. We’ve been outbid on about ten houses!’ For the time being, she’s contenting herself with making cushions. ‘I’ve got a really clear idea of the things I want in my home, so if I can’t find them then I have to make them. I mean, I probably could find them, but I’d have to spend a lot more money than I’ve got.’ Maybe childrenswear is a more realistic next goal, then. Might 13-year-old Lyra have some advice? Savannah rolls her eyes. ‘She’s into that very particular teenage girl fashion. The baggy-waist trousers and the tight little tops with the jacket off the shoulders and about a hundred necklaces. I have to remind myself that you’ve got to experiment at that age; to find out what resonates with you. You can’t limit somebody… unless we’re going to Granny’s for tea. If we’re going to Granny’s, then you cannot wear that crop top!’ And if it all went away tomorrow, what would she do? ‘When the whole thing with Debenhams happened, it was a bit of a shock. We were developing collections and I wasn’t expecting the rug to come out from under my feet in the way it did. So, I found myself in a field near where I live, about this time last year, and it was a beautiful dawn. The grass was waist high, and the birds were singing. I just remember thinking: “If there’s somebody up there… whoever you are… I surrender.” And I was flooded with this extraordinary feeling of love. It was mind-blowing. An epiphany. A religious experience. There was something up there bigger than me and, ever since, I’ve just been like: “Oh well, I’m having a bad day, it’s going to be OK.”’ And for Savannah, because she’s just so damn likeable, you really, really want that to be true. The Savannah Miller collection will launch on 10 June exclusively at next.co.uk

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