Emma Willis is bringing her special brand of star quality to Next, launching a debut range for spring/summer 2019 featuring beachwear, nightwear and tailoring.
TV presenter Emma, 42, who memorably kicked off the recent Comic Relief night wearing a bright red catsuit, ticks all the required boxes for fronting a high street womenswear collection. She’s a former model, a mum of three and she knows what she likes when it comes to what she wears. “I’ve learned that just because you think something is going to work, it doesn’t mean that it will,” she says. “And if it works on your body, it may not work on anybody else’s so that was really at the forefront of our minds when putting all the pieces together.”
Emma admits that designing clothes was not something she initially thought she would be able to do. “I didn’t train in that field and I’m not naturally gifted with a pen and paper but I think it’s important to try new things and keep pushing myself,” she says. “I don’t like to get complacent – sometimes you need to be scared in life, but in a good way.
“It was quite daunting in the beginning as I’d never done anything like that before but thankfully I worked really closely with my stylist, Hannah Macleod, who is a wizard with clothes. We sat as a team with the Next designers and as much as we took our steer from them, as they know exactly what they’re doing and what their customer likes, they were also great at letting Hannah and I put our thoughts across for what we wanted to get out of it, too. It was a really equal collaboration and so exciting to watch how the designers at Next work – a real learning experience.”
She found her inspiration for the designs “everywhere”, she says, including in her own house, from her friends, from travelling to different places and in magazines. “I’m so lucky to be able to go to lots of different places and it’s always inspiring – you just have to open your eyes and look and things just jump out at you. Even in a home magazine you could see a cushion and think that print would be amazing for a jumpsuit or a beach cover-up. I think there’s inspiration everywhere you just have to be switched on to see it.”
Appreciating the differences in women’s body shapes and sizes was key to designing Emma’s collection. Wanting to help women feel confident in their bodies, she has strived to create clothing which is versatile and appealing to a large number of women and the collection is available in sizes 6-22.
The impact a piece of clothing can have on body confidence is huge, she says, and the slightest addition to an outfit can help boost self-esteem. Take her double-breasted jacket. “I’m hoping that everybody can and will wear the range.
“It’s quite classic in the way it looks – it’s not loud and out there, it’s quite simple and has that masculine/feminine feel, which I think is really easy to wear.”
Aware that not everybody feels confident wearing loud, vibrant clothing, she has designed pieces with minimalist designs and subtle patterns.
“And I’m really pleased with the beach collection and how it all interlinks, so you can mix and match most of it and choose between wearing each piece as a set or an individual item.”
The individual pieces in the beach collection offer moderate coverage and can be mixed and matched.
“I don’t like really short shorts and neither does my mum, so making sure the range appealed to a variety of ages and sizes was very much at the forefront of our minds. I’m hoping that everybody – any age or size – can and will wear the range.”
The Emma Willis debut collection is available online at www.next.co.uk and can be found in these selected stores in Yorkshire.
Huddersfield Great Northern Retail Park
Huddersfield King Street (Kingsgate Shopping Centre)
Hull St Stephen’s
Leeds Birstall Retail Park
Leeds The Springs Thorpe Park Leeds
Leeds White Rose
York Coney Street
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