Mayte Garcia laughs as she recalls how her husband would borrow her make-up, mascara and even clothes from her wardrobe.
But then her husband was Prince, the icon revered for his flamboyant style and enigmatic public image, as much as his music and songs.
“He wore my make-up, he wore my perfumes. If I bought a new one, it would be gone. Even my pants [trousers]. He would take them and get them cut so that he could wear them,” reveals Garcia, 43, who at 5ft 4ins, was two inches taller than the star.
A dancer, she met the Purple Rain megastar when she was 16 and he was 32, and became his backing dancer, long-time muse, first wife and mother of his only child. They married in 1996 and split a few years later, finally signing divorce papers in 2000.
She says the year since his death has been an ‘awakening’.
“It’s made me more compassionate and more aware of my surroundings. It’s been a year where you don’t want it to be real, where you wake up thinking, ‘Did all of this really happen, is this a dream?’”
It also led to her decision, for the first time ever, to reveal what it was like being married to one of the most famous and enigmatic music performers and writers of the century, which she does through her new book, The Most Beautiful: My Life With Prince.
Today, she lives in a modest home in the Los Angeles suburb Woodland Hills, with her adopted daughter Gia, five, and teaches belly dancing, as well as keeping busy with the small dog rescue charity she founded. It’s a far cry from Paisley Park, Prince’s vast recording complex and living area outside Minneapolis, where they lived.
Once married, Garcia fell pregnant quickly, but heartache followed when their son, Amiir, lived for just a week, due to a rare genetic disorder.
The loss was so agonising that Garcia contemplated suicide.
“I didn’t know how I was going to get out of this deep hole. My body was aching for that baby. He [Prince] was dealing with his pain too. I didn’t know how I was going to wake up not crying. I don’t remember food for months. I don’t know how I got back to enjoying anything.’’
Prince’s way of coping with it was to throw himself into work and go on tour.
An early miscarriage in her second pregnancy led to further distress, but Prince threw himself into more touring and met Manuela Testolini, a consultant for his charity, who was to become his second ex-wife.
Garcia signed the divorce papers in 2000, but not before Prince had instructed his assistant to burn everything in the house that reminded him of her or the baby, including the contents of the nursery, Amiir’s crib, toys, clothes and even his ashes.
She says she was never aware of him taking drugs in the decade they were together or popping too many prescription pills, although she records several incidents in the book in which he behaved strangely, saying he was sick.
Nevertheless, his death at 57, from an accidental overdose of the painkiller fentanyl, came as a huge shock.
“I’ve lost someone very important in my life. We hadn’t spoken for a few years, but that love was still there.’’
l The Most Beautiful: My Life With Prince by Mayte Garcia is published by Trapeze, priced £18.99.