What’s the best thing about Milli Millu‘s new Belgravia handbag shop? Is it that it’s hidden up a flight of stairs off Hyde Park Corner with no chance of passing trade? Is it the expansive windows allowing for floods of afternoon light, all the better to show off the arm candy? Or is it designer Mireia Llusia-Lindh’s pefectly-proportioned handbags themselves?
We first met a few months ago at a networking event by The Industry, where while talking to someone else, my eyes kept returning to a bag a few feet in front of me. What appealed were the size and dimensions; Mireia designs laptop-sized bags for businesswomen with a minimalist but fashion-forward edge. When we got chatting, I discovered a former management consultant who had turned to bag design as a way of mixing her business knowledge with her creative side. As she explains, “my customers are really busy women who work in law and finance. They don’t want to think about their bag, they just want it to do its job.” Hence the unfussy structured shapes and sensible touches like umpteen inner pockets, all labelled. My favourites are the curve-edged Barcelona (£445) and the boxy Zurich (£475), both just understated enough with subtle details and practical protective studs on the base. Importantly, the handles are the right length to go over the shoulder of a coat or rest in the crook of an arm; call me sad but these are the kind of careful details that I get excited about! Milli Millu bags are made in Spain from Italian and Spanish leathers and finished with brass hardware. And I love Mireia’s hardcore approach to customer service. On the rare occasion that a bag needs mending, she’ll loan you a bag from the collection while it gets sent to Spain for repair.
So why the no-passing-trade first floor retail space? For practical reasons of course. The shop works as a multi-functional shop-studio where buyers might come in the morning and a customer or member of press in the afternoon. And it’s highly flexible; if a customer wants to come after work, they just need to call ahead and they’ll be accommodated. It’s that customer-first approach again. “We really want to focus on a personal and relaxed retail experience,” says Mireia. The space, designed by Mireia herself boasts the same attention to detail as the handbags. With its optic white walls, high-shine floor and tan Chesterfield (“hand dyed by a company in the north of England using the same technique they did 200 years ago”), it’s a destination store for the time-poor handbag buyer. As Mireia says, “I wanted it to be all white so the bags would stand out, but I also wanted a store with a soul. Most stores are so impersonal, I want a store that people can identify.”
All bags, MilliMillu.com