Archive for the ‘Occasions’ Category

Susie’s Valentine: Amour Sans Fin

February 7, 2012

Guest blogger Susie Lau gives her take on the limited edition Valentine’s range and explores the inspiration behind it, our company archive…

Valentine’s Day is a double headache for me as my other half’s birthday also happens to fall on the same day.  Is it Valentine’s Day or Birthday first?  I’ve normally gone for the latter given that the day your significant other was born is ever so slightly more important than a holiday honouring a Christain saint.

Still, I can be persuaded otherwise to switch allegiance over to V-day especially after investigating the new Valentine’s collection by Smythson.  Entitled “Love Through the Ages”, the collection is inspired by a page from this early 1900s Smythson catalogue.  I was surprised to discover that the Smythson product range back then was curiously expansive – everything from bronze statues of cockerels to handbags to jewellery were available to the Smythson customer.

A page of motto charms was where Smythson found the words “Amour Sans Fin” which now graces a gold charm that comes with all nine pieces from the classic red lizard print leather range.

I especially love this photo envelope which is a beautiful way of holding treasured prints.   The idea of an envelope clutch purely for the purpose of holding a photo or two is a decadent one but I suppose it is all part of the indulgent spirit of the holiday.

Ditto for this sweet little trinket box which comes with a chocolate leather heart nestled inside.  It’s not edible but it can be stamped with the message of your choice.  Again the singular purpose of this trinket box is pretty hard to resist but it’s the dinky size that really is the winning plus point.

There are some truly horrific Valentine’s cards about, the sort that are so cringeworthy, you can’t imagine actually giving it to someone you liked, let alone your most beloved.

The designs here feature a subtle print of a sonnet, a tiny love bug and the word LOVE spelt out in semaphore code figures.  In fact that last one is about as cryptic as you can get.

Going back to the Smythson archives, there were a few choice items that could potentially be up for a modern day revival when V-day comes around again next year.  This teensy tiny calendar from 1942 for a lady’s purse is positively lilliputian.

I loved this dotty product range seen in another catalogue which happens to be a V-day appropriate shade of red.

I’ll be delving further into the archives next, where I discover more about Mr Frank Smythson’s scarily neat handwriting, decadent invites from Maharajas and the beginnings of the classic Wafer diary.


Susie’s Chinese New Year

January 23, 2012

Our guest blogger, Susie Lau, tells us how she celebrates the holiday and shares a special family recipe for a traditional sweet treat…

When people ask how I celebrate Chinese New Year, the unfortunate answer is that I’m now normally working as Chinese New Year falls during New York Fashion Week.  Hurrah for the Year of the Dragon then as Chinese New Year has fallen early.

We kick off Chinese New Year Eve this Sunday on the 22nd and then Chinese New Year begins on Monday followed by fifteen days of festivities.  In other words, that’s two solid days of eating.  I’ll be stuffing my face with my mother’s cookies and cakes that she makes especially for this time of year.  In particular, the peanut puff or “little horns” as we call them in Cantonese is a favourite of mine because they’re portable and I’ve yet to meet someone who doesn’t find them addictive and moreish.

They sort of look like tiny Cornish pasties and the pastry has a crunch/biscuit texture to them as they’re made by deep fat frying.  You bite in to find a sweet peanut filling that can vary from recipe to recipe.  

I’ve probed my mum for her particular recipe and here it is.  She likes to make them quite small and dainty so they’re bitesize but you’ll see them in all sizes.  The tricky bit is the pinching and locking of the puffs but it’s always funny to see how they turn out depending on how nimble your fingers are. 

To make 48 little puffs.

Sieved Plain flour 225g
1 egg
Water 60ml
Peanut oil 2 tablespoons (try to buy it at a Chinese supermarket – my mother says it’s more fragrant)

Sesame seeds 60g
Unsalted peanuts 60g
Finely desiccated coconut 60g
Granulated sugar 120g

Vegetable oil for frying

Make the filling first so you have it ready to work with.  Toast the sesame seeds and peanut in a pan over a low heat until they are golden.
Break up the peanuts in a food processor until they resemble fine breadcrumbs.

Mix the sesame seeds, peanut crumbs, coconut and the sugar together so that you have a dry filling. 

Now make the dough.  Mix all the dough ingredients together, kneading it until it forms a smooth dough.  Add flour if it’s too sticky or a little oil if it feels a bit dry. 

Divide the dough into four. 

Roll each lump of dough out into a rectangular shape that is about 20cm wide and then roll from the longer edge like you would a cigarette so that you get a tube.  This forms the layers in the pastry that puffs up when fried later. 

Cut up the tube into twelve small pieces. 

Do the same with the other three piles of dough so that you end up with 48 little chunks of dough.

Roll each piece out into a circle shape, about 7cm wide and 1-2mm thick.  

Spoon a small teaspoon of filling into the middle and then fold over into a semi-circle shape and press the edges together.

Now lock the edges.  This can be a little tricky.  Starting from one end, pinch the edge and fold over and do this pinch and fold action until you get a sort of twisted braid going around the edge of the peanut puff.

Repeat for the other 47 puffs.  It’s a real family exercise to fold and lock these little puffs and I used to help my mum do this even if mine always turned out a little misshapen. 

If you use deep fat fryer, heat to 170 degrees and if you’re using a wok or a pan, heat the vegetable oil to medium heat.  Make sure the oil isn’t too hot as you don’t want to burn the puffs. 

Then drop in the puffs, ten to fifteen at a time, depending on the size of your wok or the deep fat fryer.  Use a metal fish slice to stir the puffs into the oil to ensure an even colour.

Once they are golden brown, lift out and drain on kitchen paper. 

It’s best to cool them for an hour before storing them in an airtight container (we use old biscuit tins at home) lined with greaseproof paper. 

They should last a few months in the tin but you’ll probably eat them within two weeks!

Celebrate Fashion’s Night Out with us

September 1, 2011

Come and join us next Thursday, 8th September at our New Bond Street store, where we’ll be celebrating Fashion’s Night Out with champagne, Primrose Bakery cupcakes and Essie manicures in autumn/winter shades.

Find out what your handwriting reveals about you with an expert reading from a Yard-o-Led graphologist and see the art of personalisation brought to life by one of our expert artisans, who’ll be in-store goldstamping books, diaries and leather goods.

We’ll also be launching ‘Runway Notes’, a fashion week must-have featuring ruled and blank pages for sketching key catwalk looks, available online for pre-order now…

Happy 4th July!

July 4, 2011

Here’s how the team at our NY store will be celebrating today…

Shemika is going to a family bbq where her Mom will make her famous peach cobbler:

1 qt sliced peaches

1 stick of butter

1 cup self-raising flour

1 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp cinnamon

Place peaches, butter, flavor, nutmeg and cinnamon in a pot, cook for 5 minutes, mix sugar and flour with milk to form a batter. Pour batter in a baking dish or pan (9 x 13).

Pour the hot peaches evenly on top of the batter

Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees or until brown…

Jamise is spending 4th July in Long Island at a friend’s house who is having a bbq and fireworks, Nikola is going to a rooftop BBQ in Brooklyn.

Christina’s finace is a NYC police officer so she is going to meet him and will have the best view of the fireworks!

Lisette will be taking a road trip to Chicago where she will be visiting Chicago’s July 4th “Taste of July” food fair…

Jacky will be in New Jersey at a bbq by a lake with jet skis and fireworks later…

Happy 4th July!

Wedding Windows…

April 21, 2011

In celebration of the Royal Wedding, we have just installed special “wedding” themed windows in our stores.

In our New Bond Street flagship, to celebrate the opening of our “Royal Memorabilia” exhibition, we are displaying the five artists’ work in-store and in our windows, with the titles of each work displayed “raining” down like golden confetti…

 In our Sloane Street, Westbourne Grove and Royal Exchange windows, we are  celebrating our signature bespoke wedding stationery and hand-lined tissue envelopes with a patriotic mix of white, red and blue items on white illuminated cake tier podiums…

From the Museum…

April 12, 2011

Our company archivist, Vicky Britton, reveals a new addition to our Bond Street flagship museum:

Smythson is celebrating our rich heritage in wedding stationery this month and to showcase this we have arranged a special exhibition in our New Bond Street museum.

The display case features a select few pieces from our company archive, including Frank Smythson’s scrapbook, 1887-1915, showing some very early advertisements for ‘first-class, fashionable’ wedding stationery.

The display also gives some interesting snippets of information about how the writing and sending of wedding invitations has changed over the years.

For example, in the days before the postal system the only guaranteed way to deliver a wedding invitation was by hand, usually sent by a hired courier or servant of the family.

Since many of these deliveries would be made by horseback, the double envelope was designed to ensure the invitation reached its destination in impeccable condition.

The outer envelope would be removed and only the clean interior envelope, with invitation inside, would be presented to the master or mistress of the house.

A “Royal Memorabilia” collaboration unveiled…

April 7, 2011

This week, we unveiled an exciting exhibition in celebration of the Royal Wedding: ‘Royal Memorabilia’, a collaboration with Sotheby’s curator of contemporary craft and design, Janice Blackburn, who commissioned five up-and-coming arts and crafts designers to create their own witty and unique interpretation of Royal Wedding memorabilia: Zoë Ross, Katie McBride, Jessica de Lotz, Stephen Johnson and Lindsay Taylor.

The event was held at our New Bond Street flagship, with each artist in attendance…

Zoë Ross and her ‘Paper Bride’

Katie McBride and her Royal Wedding-inspired tea set “There is a Festive Heir About Town”

Jessica de Lotz with her jewellery collection “Amoretti LXX: ‘Fresh Springs the Herald of Loves Mighty King'”

Stephen Johnson with his three pieces entitled ‘Now Isn’t That Lovely’, pictured here with Alexandra Shulman

Catering was provided by By Word of Mouth, with a “best of British” theme: fish & chips, prawn cocktail, mini Yorkshire pudding with rare roast beef and mini ploughman’s, as well as Primrose Bakery wedding-themed cupcakes…

Cocktails, made with Sipsmith gin and vodka, produced in a London distillery using British ingredients, included:

– Pink Gin and Tonic, a variation on the traditional gin and tonic made using gin with a dash of Angostura bitters, topped with tonic and garnished with a wedge of lime.

– Vodka Collins, a variation on Tom Collins, a refreshing balance of sweet and sour made using vodka, freshly squeezed lemon juice and sugar syrup topped with soda.

Beautiful English cottage garden flowers is swan displays courtesy of Scarlet & Violet

The exhibition will be officially open from the 19th April to the 3rd May at our New Bond Street store, with all pieces available for sale…

Lining with Love…

March 30, 2011

Come and pay a visit to our New Bond Street store today, where Tricia, our expert Smythson artisan, is giving a rare insight into the craftmanship involved in making our luxurious tissue-lined envelopes, along with calligrapher Craig Poland-Smith of London Scribes, who will hand-script a thoughtful message into one of our greeting cards for you – the perfect Mother’s Day gesture!

Here are some snaps of the day so far…

Tricia and Craig will be in-store today, Wednesday March 30th and tomorrow, Thursday March 31st.

Did you know…?

March 29, 2011

As wedding fever reaches its peak, Vicky Britton, our company archivist, has been delving into the Smythson Archive and charting our long-established heritage in stationery and wedding invitations.  She’ll be sharing some interesting facts with us over the next few weeks…

This week, ahead of tomorrow’s Mother’s Day event, she tells us about a Smythson staple, tissue-lined envelopes:



An invitation to a special Mother’s Day event at our New Bond Street store…

March 24, 2011

Exquisite, hand-lined tissue-envelopes are synonymous with Smythson,  so we thought we’d make our Mother’s Day cards extra-special by inviting one of our expert stationery artisans to our New Bond Street store next Wednesday 30th and Thursday 31st of March,  to demonstrate  the skilled craftsmanship involved in the creation of each hand-lined tissue envelope.

We’ll also welcome back Craig-Poland Smith of Royal Warrant-holding London Scribes, who will be on-hand to beautifully hand script a complimentary message of your choice into any of our exquisite die-stamped Mother’s Day cards…