The Cult of Beauty: An Extraordinary Era – Behind the Scenes of the Autumn/Winter collections

‘Autumn/Winter is a season dripping with lush colour and lavish detail’ – British Vogue

Edwardian opulence meets modern edge as Smythson steps into the new season with a powerful palette of earthy, olive tones, coupled with bursts of violet or crimson. Colours are deep, textures rich, and design indulges every detail. As our collections slip into their autumnal hues, their styles shift to mix and match your every move and mood. Go all-in with a capacious Cooper tote in violet ostrich, or give your day-to-evening look a kick of contemporary flair with our versatile new range of Mara accessories.

Keeping an eye on form and a hand on functionality, our designers turned to the era of Smythson’s birth for inspiration, looking at the interconnected impacts of art and culture that transformed British society at the turn of the century.

‘One should either be a work of art, or wear a work of art.’

Oscar Wilde.

Legendary icon of elegance, eloquence and unapologetic extravagance, Wilde was a champion of the Aesthetic Movement, one of Britain’s most   compelling cultural periods of creativity.

When drawing inspiration for Smythson’s Autumn/Winter collections, our design team looked to “The Cult of Beauty”, the hit 2011 exhibition at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum which paid tribute to the celebration of decadent, tactile and sensuous beauty that was ushered in with the birth of the Aesthetic Movement in the 1860s.

The movement in Britain counted artists, writers and poets among its founders, including the painters Dante Gabriel Rosetti and Frederic Leighton and textile designer, writer and artist William Morris.


Described as an ‘expression of taste and cultivation’, it called for an acknowledgment of the importance of art in everyday life, emerging from the materialism of the Victorian age to find a new, liberated kind of beauty. At its heart was an exultant celebration of form and colour, leading to a cult of creative and intellectual hedonism which was driven by the notion of ‘art for art’s sake’.


William Morris’ Green Dining Room at the Victoria & Albert Museum

Smythson’s head of design notes that it was the V&A’s Green Dining Room, created by Morris’ design firm in 1865, that provided the autumn collection’s starting point:

‘We were struck by the room’s breadth of scale and intricacy of detail, a powerful composition which very much resonated with the philosophical thread that runs throughout the Smythson brand.  Its rich, green-stained oak panels and layers of texture, patterns and stained glass conjured up forest-like images of green foliage, creating the basis for our colour palette and what we felt was a much-needed return to a more sophisticated kind of luxury.’

Explore the new collections here.


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