We caught up with musician, presenter and mum Myleene Klass about family life and her new capsule clothing collection with NEXT.
Myleene Klass laughs loudly when we ask her how lockdown is going for her and her family. ‘This lockdown feels different, doesn't it?’ she says thoughtfully. ‘I think it's just because it just feels never-ending and the kids are now getting so used to the online schooling that we've just changed everything around. Now I'm trying to get them out to fresh air. And it's the novelty of going from trying to get them off any kind of devices to then trying to get them onto devices.’
‘It's just relentless. The baby's needs are different kinds of needs but obviously, it's 24/7. So it's just the more physical side of things there and the breastfeeding and just making sure he doesn't climb into the fish tank or throw shoes into it,’ she explains, referring to her toddler, Apollo. ‘With Ava (her eldest daughter), she's doing Latin verbs. And I'm like, "What!?" She asked me yesterday if I could help her do a mood board in Spanish. I was like, "I can help you with the mood board!" And then Hero's trying to get the right fronted adverbials and the disco method of maths and the bus stop method of maths and my head is exploding!’ It’s a sentiment we can all identify with when it comes to homeschooling.
‘Everyone just feels quite exasperated. It's that feeling of you’ve just climbed one mountain and then you get to the top and you see there's another mountain. You’ve got to keep going. It's that feeling. But I've got friends who've had a really shocking time. And you just think you know what, there's always far, far worse scenarios out there.’
But for Myleene, the lockdowns have certainly come with positives. ‘I've learned a lot from lockdown. I didn't realise that Hero should be working for the tech side of NASA. She does PowerPoint presentations, which just puts to shame anything I've seen. She really is incredibly tech-savvy,’ she gushes. ‘But it's not normal to be locked down with your parents at this age. I do feel so bad for Ava. She's coming up to 14 and she shouldn't be hanging out with me, in the nicest possible way.’
But, Myleene admits, she’s really enjoying having the time with Ava and her children. ‘We've made a YouTube channel where we teach music classes, and it's been something that's been really, really special because you get to learn from your children. So Ava would say, "I think you should have the thumbnails there." Or introducing me to TikTok and then us becoming ambassadors for TikTok! That happened in the space of a few months,’ Myleene exclaims.
‘Previously, I thought she was just doing these dances around the house and opening the fridge and everything was ‘the dance.’ But now we’re being TikTok educators. So there's been things that I would never have learned in a million years and we're both learning from each other. They're watching me put mood boards together, and watching how I film and how I work. We've done photoshoots at home, podcasts. They've seen all of it happening, got involved, and they've even done some of their own work. So that's been brilliant.’
That’s not to say it’s all been fun and games, like many parents, Myleene has worries about the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on the younger generation. ‘I worry about all of us. Because we're not designed to be cut off from each other. Our children are the lockdown generation and I just hope it's not gonna be too heartbreaking to see what that's gonna look like down the line. Because I think that we have taken for granted those building blocks that are just not there. And I'm very fortunate that Apollo is surrounded by noise because we live in a blended family of seven, there’s always noise. But he's always looking up. He's never looking eye line. He's never sort of tumbling around in soft play with his buddies. It's just those little things that you just think, "Will it have an effect?" I don't know.’
Myleene was recently in the news for speaking about blended families and it’s a conversation she’s determined to continue. ‘I want to have the dialogue because I'm not from a blended family so I haven't got a clue and Sim’s (Myleene's fiance) not from a blended family either. But we want to make sure that we talk about it and make sure that it's an easy landing for all of our children,’ she explains. ‘But they're so cool with it, they don't know any different either. I've always thought about it from my side of things because of course, that's the only side you can think of. But Sim has done a few things quite recently for my girls, that have been so selfless, that it's just incredible to watch from the other way around.’
‘Because I know what I try and do. I teach his daughter piano lessons because she used to watch Ava and Hero. She’d never played an instrument in her life. And I was like “Do you want to learn?” I just thought it would be a few ad hoc lessons but now we're getting ready for grade three together. And his son will confide in me a lot. So we have a different kind of dialogue there as well. You just realise that it can actually really enhance things.’ But Myleene is quick to add that’s certainly not easy. ‘If you think that you're already split into different parts as a mother when you become a part of a blended family, it’s like there really just isn’t enough of you to go around. But you try.’
‘We had this thing where I said to Sim, “Am I allowed to tell your children off?” And he's like, “Absolutely! If they're about to do something crazy, like around the oven or, you know, they're gonna hurt themselves, you can't wait for me!” We were on eggshells at the beginning and then we realised kids are going to try and chuck each other off the slide backwards, and you're going to have to intervene. And now we just all crack on.’
A romantic lockdown proposal
The couple got engaged last year and it’s a story straight out of a rom-com. ‘I came home from work and just thought that Sim was going to be in bed because, by the time I got back, it was about midnight. But I saw the lights on in the house and I realised that Ava was still up. I didn't know what was going on.
Ava ushered me in and she just said “Look, there's pizza in the kitchen.” So I walked in and I just saw the entire garden was lit up, rows and rows and strings of lights. And what he'd done - with the baby as well - is headed over to the first place we’d met when we had our first-ever date. He'd got the table and the chairs from where we'd sat and even the Soho House napkins and he had recreated the day that we met, in our shed, even down to the food that we ate. I had a burger and chips and he made it,’ she smiles. ‘I still just thought it was our anniversary we were celebrating and it wasn't even until the minute he got on one knee that I just thought “What's he doing?” The whole thing was extraordinary.’
Although Myleene and Simon had planned to get married within a couple of months, the government's tier system made planning impossible. ‘One minute it was you can have 15 people, then you have 30, then you can have five, then you can't hug, then you can't sing, then you can't clap and then we were like, “Can we even kiss!?” So we just said, “You know what, let's just wait.” Because it's not just for us. It's also for our children. So let's just do it when we can really do it.’
Myleene's new childrenswear collection
As well as getting engaged, Myleene has also been busy creating a capsule clothing collection for newborns and children, designed and created exclusively with NEXT. She’s also designed two dresses for mums, one of which she’s wearing in our interview which we compliment.
She gestures to the leopard wrap dress. ‘Well, this is not completely altruistic, first and foremost, when I was designing it, I was like, “What do I need?” I wanted something that I want to breathe in, especially in lockdown circumstances. I want something that's going to be Uber flattering. We're not going anywhere, so it's got to feel nice, but it's still got to be you know, suitable for purpose so you can dress it up and dress it down. And I love leopard print.’
It’s clear that Myleene is incredibly passionate about her work, and tells us she’s been designing for 15 years now and has the longest-running celebrity brand in the UK. ‘I remember when we first started out, we didn't have a blueprint for how to put a business like this together. And now I can see that people are popping up left, right and centre and it all seems a lot easier when you can see how people have done it before you. But we didn't have that so there was a lot of trial and error,’ she says. ‘I mean it was brilliant to learn, but it really was like an apprenticeship. And now 15 years later to be designing and to be in NEXT - we're now immediately straight into 77 countries.'
And Myleene has an incredibly clear focus on what she didn’t want the range to include. ‘I didn't want the primary colours. I didn't want it to say ABC. I didn't want there to be tractors on everything. I just wanted it to be fabulous and fun and bold and unapologetic. I really do want the slogans to be empowering and positive, especially as I've got little girls.’
‘When I first started putting slogans on tees, everything said "Little Princess" and I was like “Absolutely not!” No, I'm not raising princesses. I want them to be Queens. I want them to be CEOs or neurologists or whatever they want to be. But what I don't want them to be is locked in a tower. So I love that my girls sat around the table with me going, “I want a T-shirt that says astronauts” We did it. It sold out. Or “I want a T-shirt that says future CEO” “Future world leader” “Happy” “Loud.” We've got a T-shirt that the baby's running around in today, it just says “Mr. Fantastic.” Because he's our little fantastic and we just thought, let's make it fun. The girls had an input in it and I've been doing it long enough now to know which colours look nice, from a mum and baby perspective. It's fun and really satisfying at the end of it all.’
And Apollo enjoyed a starring role in the campaign photoshoot, but Myleene insists he wasn’t the most natural of models. ‘What can I say, his favourite thing is hanging upside down, hence the photo! H was the youngest bar one on set and the youngest on set was sitting exactly where he needed to sit. But obviously, I had the toddler who was just into everything!’
Myleene's collection with NEXT is available to buy now. Check out our favourite picks below.