In the middle of Emma Hill’s living room stands a lifesize black glittery leopard, a show prop from her days as Mulberry’s handbag alchemist (or Creative Director, as her CV has it).
The big cat provides the entertainment at Hill’s dinner parties.
‘People disappear off claiming they’re going to the bathroom, but come back covered in glitter. After a few drinks, everyone likes to ride him, rodeo-style,’ she cackles.
Gregarious and warm, Emma is a hoot.
Ditto her house: a kitsch palace featuring gnomes, taxidermy, Hello Kitty dolls and a neon-pink front door, complete with googly eyes – goodness knows what the denizens of well-heeled Holland Park think of that.
Same goes for her extensive wardrobes (yes, plural).
Pride of place is a walk-in shoe and bag closet: three walls of floor-to-ceiling shelves groaning with goodies, many of which she designed herself.
For this isn’t just a wardrobe, it’s a potted history of Hill’s high-flying transatlantic career.
After studying fashion design at Ravensbourne College Of Design And Communication, the Londoner whizzed off to New York for 12 years, designing accessories for Burberry, Calvin Klein, Halston, Gap and Marc Jacobs.
Then came a triumphant return to London in 2008 to basically turn Mulberry into the hottest handbag brand on the planet during her five-year reign.
The iconic Alexa bag? That was Emma.
The 46-year-old left Mulberry in 2013 (‘The divorce,’ she winces), took a year out to hang out with her nine-year-old son Hudson, bake cakes and watch box-sets, before launching her new label, Hill & Friends.
The new bags are classic, simple sh More