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Millen is back and has designs for a new caring career

SHE might have quit fashion but top designer Karen Millen is making a return to the catwalk for an Irish cancer charity.

Having sold her label in 2004, she is now turning her attention to a "more rewarding" occupation.

"People tend to think that you have been affected [by cancer and that is why you would choose to get involved], but it wasn't the case with me," she told the Herald, while participating in a photocall for the charity's upcoming fashion show in Bray.

"I had sold the company six years ago now and felt that I needed to be doing something, to give back.

"When I was in the fashion industry, I was very focused on it. It was almost like you had blinkers on; you had your deadlines and that was it," she said.

"You didn't look up, didn't see what was around you. It was good, we achieved what we wanted to achieve, but now I have time to assess what I've done in my life.

"I can think that it's been incredible, but it's nice now to give back, to put something back into people. I get involved in the universities, help students, and the charity side of things is obviously a big part of my life," she added.

"I do feel privileged enough to be where I am. It is very rewarding."

Karen, who now runs Teens Unite, an organisation that helps improve the lives of young people battling severe illnesses, said that she had been inspired by the Bray Cancer Support Centre.

The millionaire even flew over to Ireland this week so she could take part in a sold-out charity fashion show in Bray, for the Irish organisation.

"It's not always about money, it's about giving a bit of time," the fashion queen said.

"People are like that for charity. I'm glad to give something to Bray as well. What they have achieved so far is incredible.

"I love Ireland, so I think it's a relationship that will be ongoing," Karen explained.

Karen met the Centre's owner, Veronica O'Leary, before Christmas. "We both had so much to talk about. They have been in the business for 21 years, so we have a lot to learn from them and we might bring them something, too."

Since quitting fashion, Karen has turned her hand to interior designing.

acampos@herald.ie