SAVANNAH MILLER reveals why she is more excited about jumpers nowadays

Sienna, McQueen and me: She’s worked for fashion’s glitziest brands and created red carpet gowns with her film-star sister, but these days designer SAVANNAH MILLER is more excited about elasticated waists

  • Savannah Miller studied fashion at London art school Central Saint Martins
  • READ MORE: Savannah Miller is back with a new super-sophisticated label

When Savannah Miller turned six she asked her parents for a pair of knitting needles. They refused – apparently, they were too dangerous for a child – so Miller got some string and pencils and taught herself to knit with them instead. It took her three years, but she eventually worked it out. 

Then the crafty child moved on to spoons; specifically, dyeing wooden spoons various colours.

She practised tie-dye, staining and even learned the Japanese tinting technique shibori. ‘By the time I was a teenager,’ she says, ‘my mum did not have a single wooden spoon in her house that wasn’t a different colour.’

The spoons and the knitting were only the start. When she was 14, Miller’s friend had a party.

‘I can’t remember the theme,’ she says, but she can remember making – and wearing – a ‘Madonna corset’, handcrafted with wire, bubble wrap and ‘cone boobs’ made from tinsel. Three years later, at her school leavers’ ball, she designed her own dress. 

This time it was a Goldilocks-style frock with a pink gingham corset, puff sleeves and an enormous skirt. ‘It was a bit mental,’ she says, ‘now that I think about it.’

Savannah with her sister, actress Sienna at the Met Gala in 2018

Today, Miller is 44 and still designing. She has a bridalwear business called Savannah Miller; she ran the label Twenty8Twelve for six years with her younger sister, the actress Sienna, 41, and designed capsule collections with Next and Debenhams.

This month she launched her own fashion brand, Vivere. 

The clothes are largely workwear. Prices start at £25 and go up to £275, everything is made in Turkey and pieces run to size 18. 

There are organic cotton T-shirts, smart silk slip dresses and heavy-looking suit trousers with – Miller says excitedly – elastic waistbands. ‘When you get to your 40s, elastication in the waist is a wonderful thing.’

Sadly, there’s no bubble-wrap and wire corset with tinsel cone boobs – but there is the best-looking grey turtleneck I’ve seen in ages. Miller strokes the jumper. ‘Yes, I love her.’ 

All of Miller’s creations are, it seems, anthropomorphic. ‘Oh he’s great,’ she says, holding up a stiff white shirt. ‘She’s gorgeous,’ she coos, stroking a pleated skirt.

Miller studied fashion at the London art school Central Saint Martins. In her second year, a course friend got her a summer job at Alexander McQueen. The British designer was then in his 30s and had offices in London filled with fashion students doing odd jobs. 

For her first week, McQueen’s team fobbed Miller off with the rather unglamorous task of photocopying 2,000 pages of images for various moodboards. She was ‘glued’ to the photocopier for seven days straight, but she didn’t care. 

McQueen had chosen all the pictures himself – there were portraits of punks, photographs of Ecuadorian tribes – and looking at them was like ‘looking into his mind’.

Her course required her to do a work placement, so she stayed at McQueen. After a few months, Miller arrived at the studio to find the designer sitting on a bench alone, staring at a wall. 

He said, unblinking, ‘You’re my new PA.’ Miller was only 21; ‘I was, like, ‘F***!’ Still, she agreed and worked under him for the rest of the year. 

‘I learned more there than I did at Saint Martins,’ she says. ‘Any one of us would have cut off an arm for him. He was so extraordinary.’

On her wedding day in 2005 with first husband Nick Skinner and baby Moses. The dress was Savannah’s own design 

When Miller left to finish her degree, McQueen begged her to stay. She refused and ‘he never spoke to me again. I guess he felt betrayed because we were like a family.’ Although Miller did visit him once, months later, and says he was ‘lovely’, the designer was also ‘a troubled person’. 

In 2010, he took his own life. ‘I still dream about him and I imagine that he’s alive and it’s all a joke and he’s living in LA,’ says Miller. ‘I could ramble on about him all day. It was a privilege to work there.’

On the day Miller graduated from art school she also found out she was pregnant. (She now has three children with her ex-husband Nick Skinner –Moses, 17, Lyra, 14, and Bali, ten – and is married to aristocrat James Whewell.) 

But a pregnancy, or a baby, didn’t stop her working: she did stints at Anya Hindmarch, Matthew Williamson and Betty Jackson.

In 2007, Carlos Ortega, founder of Pepe Jeans, asked if she wanted to create a label with her sibling Sienna, who was going out with Jude Law and ‘everything she wore was being knocked off by the high street’. 

Ortega probably thought the pair were going to open Sienna’s wardrobe and quickly copy whatever was in there. The Miller sisters had other ideas for their label, Twenty8Twelve. 

The late Alexander McQueen pictured accepting an award in 2002

They designed ‘Dickensian-looking’ dresses; they used envelopes for clothes labels, stuffed with secret letters to customers; they wrote poems on washable pieces of paper from Japan and sewed them into back pockets of jeans.

The sisters left Twenty8Twelve in 2012 when Sienna’s acting career became too big, but they remain close. In 2018, Sienna took Savannah to the Met Gala (see left); in 2022, Savannah wrote an essay for Vogue, in which she called her sibling ‘a magical, golden person’.

Sienna helped start her sister’s bridalwear career, too. When Savannah got married in 2005, paparazzi camped in trees to get photographs of Sienna and Jude Law. 

An American bridal designer, Molly Rosen Guy, saw the pictures of Savannah’s dress, which she’d made herself and, in 2013, asked her to collaborate. 

Miller agreed, then started her own bridal line shortly after. Last year, Carrie Johnson rented one of Miller’s dresses for her wedding party.

Seeing someone in something you made is, says Miller, ‘the biggest thrill’. It’s happened to her a few times. 

A stranger will walk past her in the street, at the airport, in the supermarket wearing a piece of clothing she created. ‘I don’t speak to them,’ she says. ‘I just smile.’

  • Vivere is at, and selected John Lewis stores

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