I have known beauty guru and co-founder of BeautyMART, Millie Kendall for *take deep breath* twenty two years. I was Beauty Assistant at Marie Claire magazine and Millie had just brought the first make-up artists’ brand to hit UK shores, Shu Uemura, to Harvey Nichols.
Millie founded BeautyMART with former British Vogue Beauty Director, Anna Marie Solowij, which sells a perfectly edited selection of cult beauty products from around the world, both online and in stores such as Harvey Nichols and the flagship Topshop at Oxford Circus. She is probably most famous for being one half of cosmetics’ line, Ruby & Millie, which was sold in Boots.
However, from the first moment I met Millie, all those years ago, I loved her style. There was just something special about her. She wasn’t particularly ‘groomed’ (and will be the first to admit it), and her hair would regularly change colour from week to week, although I always think of her as brassy blonde (from a bottle of the finest hair bleach of course).
Millie can carry off scruffy boyfriend jeans with a beautiful pair of Gucci heels, barely any make-up with messy hair, or a girly girly dress and still look the epitome of style. And of course, if I ever need any beauty advice such as what BB cream or moisturiser should I buy, she is always my first port of call. When I sent her a text during X-Factor asking her if she knew where Lauren’s incredible gold eyeshadow might be from, she was able to tell me not only which make-up artist created it, but where I could get it. Within 30 seconds.
So it only made sense that Millie should be the first of The Yellow Dress’s ‘My Style’. And who doesn’t love poking into other people’s wardrobes and dressing tables?
TYD: How would you define your style?
MK: “I like to think of myself as casual but not in the ’80s sense of the word. I’ve been wearing jeans and white T-shirts for three decades.”
TYD : Who are your style icons?
MK: “I love Annie Hall and Lauren Bacall. I like it when a woman dresses like a man, it looks cool. Women wearing trousers was quite radical at the time, but it’s so sexy.”
TYD: What have been your favourite pieces in your wardrobe and on your dressing table?
MK: “I have so many favourites, but my all-time favourite is a black Norma Kamali flamenco-style jumpsuit. I’ll never fit into it again, but it had a low back and was so sexy. I adore Carmex’s Healing Cream, but it’s the hardest thing to get here in the UK. I’ve begged them to bring it over.”
TYD: Is there anything you ever regret NOT buying?
MK: “It will always be shoes. There was one pair in particular, back in the 1990s, that I saw in a shop at the top of Portobello Road in London. They were so over the top and I just couldn’t justify it. I saw someone else wearing them and wished I’d got them. Even if I’d never worn them they would have been the most amazing pair of shoes just to own.”
TYD: What was your worst fashion mistake?
MK: “I’m still making them, but the one that really stands out is a Chanel suit that I bought when I got my MBE for Ruby & Millie. My dad (a hairdresser in Beverley Hills, LA) said that I had to look smart so I spent $10,000 dollars on a suit that makes me look like an old lady. I wear the jacket occasionally with jeans, I have to or I want to cry. Not many people can say they own a Chanel suit, but it’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever done. When I think of the things I could have used that money for!”
TYD: Where do you like to shop?
MK: “I like Uniqlo for basics. It’s so organised and I love the way they co-ordinate everything. I LOVE personal shopping in any store from Selfridges to Topshop. I find clothes shopping quite intimidating, but this way somebody does it for you, for free! I tend to use it if I need something for an occasion, such as a special event or a holiday.
I also love vintage shopping. I buy my vintage pieces mainly in New York and LA, and the more unknown and out of the way the shops are, the better. I’m also a big fan of Mary Portas’s Mary’s Living & Giving Shop charity shops for Save The Children. All the stock is designer cast-offs in great condition and it’s nicely merchandised. The store in Primrose Hill, London has some really good stuff and it has a really fast turnaround of stock.”
TYD: What is your ‘can’t live without’ beauty product?
MK: “Legology Air-Lite. My daughter says it makes your legs feel as though they’re flying. I love everything about it. When we launched BeautyMART in Topshop, I was working in the store from 4am to 9pm and my legs were shaking and painful. I put on some Legology and was sold. I love it when something actually works. I stand on my feet all day and it makes a big difference to be able to come home, put this on and relax. It’s such a clever product. I also love the fact that everything about it reeks luxury. It’s so decadent to have a beauty product that’s just for your legs.”