Karen Millen: ‘I miss the cleaner I had before my bankruptcy’

Karen Millen
Karen Millen: 'When you've had something and you lose it, you appreciate it more' - Shutterstock

How do famous names spend their precious downtime? In our weekly My Saturday column, celebrities reveal their weekend virtues and vices. This week: Karen Millen


I get up early every day of the week. Once I’m awake, I find it hard to lie in bed. I’ll snuggle up on the sofa with my dog Lou – she’s a cockermatian, a cross between a cocker spaniel and a Dalmatian – to flick through social media, mainly Instagram, and acclimatise to the day ahead.


I always have a shower and put on make-up – it doesn’t matter what I’m doing that day. I’ll usually wear something casual on a Saturday. My wardrobe is full of black; I like to wear neutral colours, particularly at the weekend.


I’ll either eat granola that I’ve made myself, with natural yoghurt, or if my partner Ben is here we love to go to a coffee shop like Gail’s in Tunbridge Wells for poached eggs and sourdough toast. He’s from Australia and they have a big breakfast culture there, which I have grown to love.


I’ll make batches of my granola – enough to last me the week – or bake a cake. My daughter can’t have gluten, so I’ve got used to using ground almond flour in my baking, and I also try to use less sugar to keep it healthy. My mother always baked cakes on the weekend – and still does, at the age of 86 – and I suppose I’ve continued that tradition.


Saturday is my day for cleaning. I’ll put a load of sheets in the wash and go crazy with the vacuum. I find hoovering, polishing and ironing quite therapeutic. When it comes to cleaning the toilets and bathrooms, though, I miss having a cleaner.

I never had what people call ‘staff’ before I went bankrupt, but a cleaner used to come a couple of times a week. I think when you’ve had something and you lose it, you appreciate it more.

Karen Millen OBE seen attending the Ballet Icons Gala 2024
On spending Saturday evening with friends: 'I don't get overly dressed up. I tend to have more dress-up events in London during the week' - Shutterstock


I’ll be out in the Kent countryside, wearing my old Barbour waxed jacket, walking the dog. I live in the middle of farmland and there’s no shortage of places to walk. I can literally just step outside my gate, and I’m in fields and footpaths.


I might have something small like a bacon sandwich – or I might skip lunch if I’ve had a big breakfast and just have a piece of the cake I baked that morning.


I’ll pop over to see my mum, or if I’ve got nothing else planned, I often throw myself into some work. I don’t consider my work to be ‘work’ as such, I enjoy it so much. [Millen no longer owns her eponymous brand, but designs collections for the label. Her latest is The Founder: Evolution, available now.]

If I’m designing a collection I’ll be drawing with a pencil on paper – I’m old-fashioned like that – or knocking up little bits and pieces on a sewing machine or on a mannequin, or going through colours.

From as young as I can remember, I was always drawing, painting or making clothes. My mother used to make clothes for me and my sister so there was always a sewing machine in the house, and when I was old enough, I would use it.


I’ll often get changed and head to a friend’s house for dinner. My generation of friends and I have got to the stage where we tend to eat earlier and go to bed earlier than we used to.

I know there will be buckets of champagne because my friends are great with their hospitality. It’s usually a very relaxed atmosphere so I don’t get overly dressed up. I tend to have more dress-up events in London during the week.


My friends have got beautiful houses so I generally stay the night, which is lovely, or I head home in a taxi and try not to fall asleep on the way.