Things To Do in Barnes, Battersea, Cheam, Clapham, Epsom, Fulham, Kingston, Putney, Surbiton, Sutton, Wandsworth, Wimbledon

Emma Hill

Tell us about your early days in Kingston…
I was born and grew up in Kingston, after my parents moved there from Wales. I was actually born at home in our Durlston Road house and had such a wonderful childhood. In typical 1970s fashion, my brother and I were happy and independent ‘latch key kids’ and I have very happy memories of endless summer days roaming around with all our neighbourhood friends. Some of my earliest and most cherished memories include going to my local primary, Latchmere School; my obsession with my Brownies uniform; Friday nights going to the local library with my dad to choose that week’s books to read, followed by picking up delicious Indian take- away, going with my nana to drink milkshakes at the ice-cream parlour in Bentalls, and winter tobogganing in Richmond Park.

You later studied at Wimbledon School of Art – how was it?
I had long dreamt of going to Wimbledon School of Art, with its long held reputation as one of the very best schools in the country, and I was over the moon to gain a place there in 1988 to study for my one-year Art Foundation Diploma.

It was an experience that I will never forget or underestimate, spending each day with creatively like-minded students, some of whom are still my dearest friends to this day, and being taught by a world-class faculty. It is also where I had the life-changing experience of being taught by the then head of fashion, Ken Walker, who became my lifelong mentor and cherished friend.

I cannot speak highly enough of Wimbledon School of Art, and the unparalleled educational experience it offers, and was incredibly honoured in 2014 to have been made an Honorary Fellow of UAL.

And we hear you also worked in the area…
From the age of 16 I had always worked on Saturdays and over the holidays - both of my parents were not only teachers, but also Welsh, so a strong work ethic was pretty much non-negotiable! My obsession with fashion, coupled with my initial and ill-fated attempt at waitressing, meant that all things retail would become my employment of choice throughout my educational years, working at Habitat and M&S, amongst others. I spent the summer of 1989 working at the Miss Selfridge concession in Elys, which was fabulous in all respects except for the fact that I definitely spent way too much of my salary on the clothes.

Who were your role models growing up?
Many – they included: my older brother, Minnie the Minx, my dad, Debbie Harry, my nana Nellie and Emma Peel, played by Diana Rigg, from The Avengers - I was named after her and to this day my friends’ nickname for me is still “Mrs Peel”!

What are you most proud of in your career so far?
When I was awarded my CBE in 2012 - I practiced walking backwards in high heels for weeks before the incredibly magical and humbling honour of going to the palace and being presented my medal by the Queen.

Describe your perfect day off…
Hanging out with my 12-year-old son, Hudson, and our French Bulldog puppy, Bleecker.

How will you be celebrating Christmas?
I absolutely love Christmas and always have! My son (who is American) and I begin our holiday festivities at the end of November, when we celebrate Thanksgiving by cooking a huge traditional meal, with all the trimmings, for friends and family. We then decorate the tree and the house: ‘more is more’ is our family motto when it comes to glitter, fairy lights, baubles and all things twinkly! 

Hill & Friends is available at Elys of Wimbledon