As far as career changes go, swapping sharing the stage with Prince to running your own fashion label are about as diverse as they come, but designer and business woman Wiggy Hindmarch is pragmatic about her choices...
“It had been my lifelong dream to be a backing dancer for Prince and when I heard of the audition the night before, I decided to just hop on a train up to London and give it a go otherwise it would be something I would always regret… After the initial elation of getting the job and proving to myself I was capable, the reality of touring and going on the road all over the world set in. As a younger girl, I had already been on tour for six weeks at a time, twice with The English National Ballet touring with The Nutcracker, and knew what it was like. Two shows a day, staying in grim hotels, and that didn’t excite me. I think for me, I just wanted to know I achieved my goal, rather than actually do it. Weirdly, I don’t have any regrets about that. My life could have turned out so differently.”
Wiggy Kit, the resort-wear line she created that caters for beach, dinner and everything in between, is the result of finding a wardrobe filled with “holiday-ready” clothes that simply didn’t translate for the real world. Flimsy dresses that demanded tanned skin, shorter hemlines, sheer fabrics… Wiggy took the ease and comfort from traditional resort-wear and made it appropriate for the school run and everyday life, no easy feat when you’re wanting to consider both function and form in equal measure. “I only use excellent quality natural fabrics and love to always flatter the wearer no matter the skin colour. My designs are timeless, ageless but never boring. You always feel appropriately dressed and never look as though you are trying too hard.” The beautiful, bohemian-inspired collections (minus any froufrou) can be found at matchesfashion.com, and really are a worthwhile investment for both travelling in style and spending lazy summers at home.
We caught up with Wiggy, who is also a mother to two girls – Scarlett and Marina – to talk about her impressive career, how she divides her time between London and The Bahamas, motherhood, and her totally relatable love/hate relationship with social media…
What are some of your most vivid memories of your childhood?
I was born in Singapore just after my parents had moved over from Vancouver Island. Although my parents are British, they have moved around the world quite a bit. I spent my first 3-4 years of my life there and moved back to the UK with my brother. I can remember hardly ever wearing a stitch of clothes as it was extremely hot and humid there. Another abiding memory is a lot of our house didn’t have conventional walls, but a kind of decorative grill to let the breeze through. When we moved back to the UK it was a bit of a come down from the heyday of the 70s expat lifestyle. We lived in the UK up until I was 16 when my father sold his company to an American company, and off my parents went again to the States where they settled for some time in Newport Rhode Island. I was so grateful to get out of the UK as the expat lifestyle definitely suited our family much, much better.
You trained as a dancer, and then aged 18 landed your dream job as a singer and backing dancer for Prince – you ended up moving to America instead. Take us back to this time in your life. What was that life like? Why did you turn the job down?
At the time I was suffering quite severely with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which literally whacked me out. I was boarding at a performing arts school whilst my parents had emigrated to the States. It was a tough and unsettling time and I was not enjoying my school at all. I had fallen out of love with dancing – it was a very negative and demoralising kind of school at the time. Due to my illness, I had to move from the dancers’ course to the drama course as my body was just shot. The Prince audition came two years after I switched courses and so I was by that time quite out of shape and out of practice. It had been my lifelong dream to be a backing dancer for Prince and when I heard of the audition the night before, I decided to just hop on a train up to London and give it a go otherwise it would be something I would always regret. To my surprise I got through round after round of culls and even the singing audition – I am the worst singer in the world but decided to make up for my lack of ability by performing my heart out and it paid off surprisingly. They eventually whittled us down to a group of four girls and four boys which would make up the group of backing dancers and singers. After the initial elation of getting the job and proving to myself I was capable, the reality of touring and going on the road all over the world set in. As a younger girl, I had already been on tour for six weeks at a time twice with The English National Ballet touring with The Nutcracker, and knew what it was like. Two shows a day, staying in grim hotels and that didn’t excite me. I think for me, I just wanted to know I achieved my goal, rather than actually do it. Weirdly, I don’t have any regrets about that. My life could have turned out so differently.
You live between London and Harbour Island – how do you juggle your time between the two?
We go away every school vacation and try and stay the maximum time there. I guess collectively that amounts to about three months a year. We plan to spend more time there as we get older.
List three places in London you love going with your girls?
We enjoy pretty simple family type things together. One of our family favourites is to stroll along the river Thames with our dog on a Sunday while the roast is cooking and head to a beautiful old pub literally overhanging the Thames called The Dove in Chiswick and enjoy a pint of the local beer from Fuller’s Brewery before heading back to a roaring fire. Living on the Thames as we do, we really enjoy activities surrounding life here. A walk or a bicycle ride to Barnes to the incredible Olympic Cinemas (converted from world-famous recording studio used by every iconic musician) to watch a movie or visit one of the many fab little restaurants there as Barnes Village is bucolic and picturesque. Or head down to Petersham Nurseries for a browse of their amazing eclectic antique finds housed in their dirt floor fantasy greenhouses followed by a wholesome soup.