INTERVIEW: EMILY MILLICHIP
REEK interview with textile queen Emily Millichip about what makes her such a creative and empowering bitch…
How would you describe your job?
Like a questionable mushroom trip in an abandoned theme park. Relentless. Also colourful, creative, exciting and empowering. But relentless. It’s like walking a knife edge between total excitement and mischief, and bottomless fear and despair. Not to sound too melodramatic, or illegal.
Do you feel that women are celebrated in your industry? Tell us about some of the women who have inspired your own career?
I would consider my industry to be young internet-based independent labels rather than the traditional/established fashion industry, so yes. I find it impossible to divorce my own personality and identity from my brand because I set it up to express myself, so I can relate to women that have created brands that are extensions of themselves. I love the way that Jen Gotch is a total business powerhouse, but still Instagram Stories herself having an existential crisis, then watching Dolly Parton. I also admire the way that Sophia Amoruso handled the bankruptcy of Nasty Gal, a brand which was built on her personality. She was just like, “Whatever. I’ve set up this media company now. Bye.”
Where do you find inspiration for your own style?
I used to be pretty experimental in my dress and would read a lot of style blogs and do a lot of vintage shopping. I guess these days it’s more Instagram and Pinterest, although the demands of my lifestyle are probably my biggest influence. As I get older and busier my tastes have changed, so now I am more minimal punk on a good day, grotty street-rat on a bad day. There are things I used to wear almost daily that I couldn’t bear to put on my body now. Full skirts, ruffles, sequins, bows, they are all dead to me. Give me a nice wipe-clean bit of pvc and a white ankle boot, thanks. Although, the other day I saw an elderly woman walking through Holyrood park with a can of Tennent’s and a Rottweiler and that was pretty fucking inspiring.
What gender equality causes mean the most to you personally and why?
Bodily autonomy is essential. I am so happy to see the way the narrative regarding consent has evolved over the years. My generation were taught that anything other than an active no is consent, whereas now consent is regarded as an enthusiastic YES. Sexual coercion can be damaging on a much deeper level than we realise. There is an incredible amount of entitlement to woman’s bodies, both in and out of the bedroom. Leading on from this I also think it is vital to have access to free reproductive healthcare, safe abortion and aftercare.
What women do you identity with from history to the present day?
Probably all of those nameless women that got stuck in mental asylums for distemper / living an immoral life / reading novels, etc. It’s like, GUYS LEAVE US ALONE, WE ARE WRITING THE BUCKET LISTS OF THE FUTURE.
What changes do you think should be implemented to try and encourage more women to go into business and start up their own brands?
Parents of all genders should be banned from asking their adult offspring when they are getting ‘proper jobs’. Beyond that, give us cold hard cash.
From your travels what cultures inspire you the most?
The first place outside of books that really inspired me was Berlin. I hitchhiked there when I was 18 and got a lift with these old punks. I remember getting out of the car in Prenzlauer Berg (before they cleaned it up) and entering this other world. It was like being a kid in a candy store, there was so much chaos and fun, but these guys were smart. I think that was one of the first times I really saw the intersection between intellect and style. More recently I have been inspired by the colours and vibrancy of Mexico. I spent time there learning traditional Mexican embroidery, but the thing that ended up inspiring me the most were the tiny shops selling domestic products. I particularly loved the striped rolls of loosely woven cleaning cloth you could buy for about 40p a meter. I ended up making sack dresses out of the stuff with neon orange and neon green through it which obviously confused everyone because they were like, why are you wearing our floor rags?
What are your favourite smells and why?
The sea, because it the one constant in my life and the recipient of all of my hopes, woes, and darkest secrets. Nag Champa because it reminds me of moving to Edinburgh and creating an independent life for myself. I burn it at home all of the time and take it with me when I go travelling. I like heavy sweet scents like jasmine, honeysuckle and vanilla. I literally just remembered that my dad once told me that rapeseed flowers smell like decomposing bodies. That’s dark. Moving on, all food.
Are you a bitch, a witch, or a bit of both?
Depends on if you’ve crossed me, muthafukkaaaa.
What makes you a damn rebel bitch?
My criminal record.
Want more? Of course you do. You can follow Emily’s work on her instagram and website
Photography, Caro Weiss