A party plan network followed and in 1983 they opened their first store in Maidstone, Kent, which was followed a few years later by branches in Tunbridge Wells, Brighton, Guildford and London.
The brand continued to expand throughout the Nineties, and was acquired in June 2004 by the Icelandic Mosaic Fashions.
Millen, who was awarded an OBE in 2008, claims to have been a victim of fraud.
She had also invested part of her fortune in a tax avoidance scheme called Round the World that was successfully challenged by the tax man in 2010.
In 2009 Mosaic Fashions ceased trading and the brand transferred to Aurora Fashions.
Karen Millen was spun-out from Aurora Fashions in 2011, remaining under the ownership of Aurora's owner, Kaupthing Bank.
Internationally, Karen Millen trades from 16 company owned stores and 57 franchise stores in 23 countries. In March 2008 the company launched a new flagship store in New York City at 114 Prince Street.
‘It was tough,’ she says today, talking for the first time about the break-up of her relationship and the sale of her business.The company has stores throughout the United Kingdom, United States, Indonesia, Austria, Denmark, Norway, Russia, the Republic of Ireland and many other European countries.With a loan of just £100, the pair bought one thousand metres of white cotton and began manufacturing and selling white shirts to their friends.Creative Director Gemma Metheringham oversees twelve designers, producing two main collections and two transitional collections each season.Karen Millen trades from 84 standalone stores and 46 concessions in the UK and Ireland.She launched the label with former husband and business partner Kevin Stanford.They sold the company in 2004 to Icelandic corporation Baugur in a £120 million deal.Those days of success — and an OBE in 2008 — must now seem a very long time ago. Karen Millen is a British women's clothing retailer, specialising in tailoring, coats and eveningwear.The case for insolvency went before the High Court this week, after she was reportedly unable to pay an outstanding £6m tax bill.The 55-year-old, who lives in Wateringbury near Maidstone, now faces the possibility of losing her £3m mansion and other property.