Archive for the ‘spring/summer ’12’ Category

An Extraordinary Window into the World of Kerry Lemon

May 29, 2012

In celebration of Her Majesty the Queen’s 2012 Diamond Jubilee, we commissioned charming illustrator and artist Kerry Lemon to create a quintessentially British installation with a twist for our store windows.

We invited her in to share her inspirations and tell us how she will be celebrating the Jubilee this weekend. During the interview, her simple, direct turn of phrase and humble, quirky humour belied the exquisite intricacy of detail in her drawings, illustrating why she was the perfect partner for our royal tribute.

Kerry’s easy, open manner brimmed with all the irreverent dynamism that shines through in the fresh, bold lines of her work. Sitting down she smiled, settled into her chair and cupped her hands around a mug of tea.

Having initially drawn inspiration from The Wallace Collection, and the graphics and colours of London photography volume This Is London, we commissioned Kerry for her inimitable style and ability to capture the essence of all things British; from churches and cathedrals to seaside scenes and flowers. Her drawings of roses in particular brought an added element of fantasy to the concept.

 Using the staged photography style of high society and royal court photographer Cecil Beaton as a key reference, we devised a ‘pinhole theatre’ concept, and thought this was the perfect fit for collaboration with Kerry.

Kerry: “I think the creative brief and my own illustration style met so naturally, the colour scheme of soft pink and sepia tones was lovely. I thought the vintage-inspired blend of sepias and pinks was really pretty.”


Q: What was it about Smythson that made you want to work with us?

 “It was definitely the craftsmanship that attracted me to Smythson, the exquisite attention to detail in the design and play with texture of your products. As soon as I read the proposal, I thought ‘This is amazing, I have to do this!’  It’s such a cool project, because it enables me to use my drawings on a massive scale which is so exciting. I also unashamedly love the Royals, so the fact that I was able to draw crowns and Buckingham Palace is just dreamy!

“It was a really fun project to work on, everyone knew exactly what they wanted and it was a very clear brief – they’d done mood boards, which I love! And then I could go off and play with my ideas.”

Kerry’s illustrations for our windows

Q: Tell us a bit about yourself

“I’m an illustrator and an artist, most of my work is editorial – I draw pictures for magazines, book covers and album sleeves. I originally studied Fine Art, which involved lots of installations in large spaces. I used to find a space I liked which could be the corner of a room or a ceiling, out of which I would create something sculptural.” Kerry beamed and flung her arms wide to illustrate her point, “I’m 4”10, so I like working on a big scale!

“My background in installation art has been really helpful, because I’m not intimidated by scale and it makes me think quite differently to other illustrators. After finishing my degree, I received a Queen Elizabeth’s Scholarship, QEST, to which artists and craftspeople can apply to further their studies. I was given a grant and I then went on to study illustration at Cambridge. I then set up my illustration business, with a three year business plan like proper geek!”

Q: How did you start working on window installations?

“My first commission came about when I was approached by Electrum Gallery on South Molton Street, who asked me to hand-paint their window. I said no initially because I thought “Oh crikey, no way, that sounds too scary”, but I was eventually persuaded and I loved it. I loved the interplay with people when they came past to see how I was getting on, it opened up the process in a really refreshing way and I thought ‘I want more of this!’. I’m inspired by the notion of taking something as simple as a sketch and launching it into extraordinary new dimensions by recreating it on a huge, interactive scale.”


Q: You’ve worked for institutions such as The Times, Liberty and The National Trust. What do you think it is about your drawings that appeal to British brands like us?

“My illustrations are relatively traditional, but also a bit quirky! They’re clearly hand-drawn rather than computer-based, so there’s a real craftsmanship involved which I think resonates with a brand like Smythson. I draw everything by hand, I love drawing – I’m obsessed with it!”

Q: Where do you draw your inspiration from?

“I try and take Fridays out of the studio to go and draw. I love to draw in museums, the British Museum is amazing and the V&A is great to draw in.  In every collection, there’ll be something that really inspires me, for example I recently went to see Howard Hodgkin’s collection of Indian Paintings at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, and I cannot stop thinking about the colours. There was a really beautiful hot pink and a mint shade which I loved, and the compositions and level of endless detail was amazing, you could even borrow magnifying glasses!

“I try and go on drawing trips every year, this time I’m going to the Orkneys and Iceland, last year I went to Wales and Finland.  All I want to do is draw! I come back with sketch books full of colour. Finland was really green – it’s amazing, and the colours of the houses were a particular kind of rusty red that I would never normally use.”

Q: What would be your dream commission? If you could draw absolutely anything, what would it be?

“Drawing Buckingham Palace was one, so thank you Smythson! I love to work with architecture, nature and animals. When left to my own devices, I could draw anything.  At the minute, I’m obsessed with flowers and using a lot of gold and copper leaf and gloss paint.

“I get commissions to draw all sorts – typewriters one week, shoes the next – that’s why having my personal sketch books and scrapbooks to flick through matters so much, it means I can play with composition and themes for inspiration and ideas.”

Q: Tell us about where you work.

“My studio is at home in Virginia Water in Surrey and it’s really peaceful, there are birds, it’s green, it’s lovely.

“There are banners hanging from the ceiling and the walls are covered in quite crackers stuff! For example, today I went to do some brass rubbings in the crypt of St Martin’s- in- the- Fields that’ll go up in the studio. I drew a crazy knight in different colours – I liked the pattern of his chainmail, I’m really attracted to patterns.”

Q: And finally, how will you be celebrating the Jubilee?

“If I could celebrate in any way, I think a giant house party with girlfriends would be my choice, as I’m such a fan of dressing up! We’d make our own crowns and tiaras with lots of red, white and blue fabric and safety pins for ridiculously festive, patriotic gowns. There would also be gallons of tea, cakes, scones and pink lemonade!”

Images of Kerry Lemon: © Clare Kelly:



Fashion Week Windows…

February 16, 2012

London Fashion Week begins tomorrow and we’ve installed our latest windows to celebrate, featuring every editor’s essential, our Runway Notes book alongside spring/summer ’12 Cooper and Emily handbags.

Our Visual Merchandiser, Marco,  shares the inspiration behind the display:

The theme of our new windows is “timeless elegance with a modern twist” expressed through the classic architectural structure of columns painted matt white to give a modern, artistic feel. Certain columns are tilted, bringing a kinetic surrealism to the display.

Light plays a very important role in this scheme, diffusing a soft and delicate mood. Spot lights are aimed on to the product in order to give a theatrical feel to the ensemble, especially at night-time.

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.

Latest windows: The Year of the Dragon

January 24, 2012

We’re celebrating the Year of the Dragon this week with a new window display reflecting two new correspondence card motifs designed especially for Chinese New Year.

How will you be celebrating? Check out our guest blogger, Susie Lau’s recipe for a traditional Chinese New Year treat

Susie’s Diary: New York Fashion Week S/S ’12

September 27, 2011

In her second guest blog for us, Susie Lau keeps a diary of New York Fashion Week spring/summer ’12…

Day 0

Landed in after a delayed flight to greet a very RAINY NEW YORK, 2 hour immigration queue and a hellish yellow cab line.  I got into a random minicab service, going against better judgement but it did get me into the comfort of my hotel quicker.

Rachel Comey

Rachel Comey cheered me up as my kick off to NYFW,  even if it is quite hard to get hold of this Brooklyn cult label.  Loved the cable knit prints and as always covetable shoes.

Day 1

Vogue Nippon woke me up to do an impromptu photo shoot in my hotel room where they artfully arranged my clothes.

Show wise, Richard Chai started my day off with his zany way of layering that included a trouser/skirt combination that some are terming the ‘scant’ (cross between skirt and pants…), flashing back to some 90s relics of combat trousers that came with a bit of a flap.  Cushnie et Ochs was where Barbie met Stepford Wives in one sexy outing of white and pink dresses with ‘Don’t mess with me heels’.  I’m still not a spindly heel person but I like the ‘fresh’ sentiment.

I inhaled pork tacos at Dos Toros Taqueria to get my somewhat decent Mexican fix.

Fashion’s Night Out became Fashion meets Traffic as I struggled to get between up and down town.  I’m opting for Fashion’s Night In instead…

Richard Chai

Chushnie et Ochs

Day 2

Day 2

My summer packing (because BBC weather told me it would be 28 degrees every day) finally pays off as it got scorching and suddenly neon lace and a few seasons-old Rochas shirt suddenly didn’t look so mad.

Jason Wu was my first PROPER show as in PROPER fash-on attendance with everyone looking serious and eager to start dissecting what’s to come for S/S 12.  Wu got sporty with parkas and trailing skirts with t-shirts, a remnant of Jil Sander’s S/S 11 collection no doubt but still I thought it was his best yet.

I enjoyed chatting to Tavi (of Style Rookie) about her new site at Mandy Coon, where sharp cuts met soft satin.  I got my first show tingle at Rag & Bone where my camera at one point started making a moaning noise from all the strain of my snapping.  The surf theme in S/S collections is nothing new but here it was articulated with a layered freshness.  The day got better with Suno‘s amazing array of prints that mixed Prairie with 50s housewives and a bit of disco red metallic lamé thrown for good measure.  Clothes for having fun in is what Suno says to me.  My cheap eats theme continues with a slice of pizza near my hotel.

Jason Wu

Rag and Bone


Day 3

Day 3

I’m always reacting poorly to the weather and on another sizzling hot day, I chose to load my back up with black nylon tulle courtesy of a statement piece by young designer Maarten van der Horst.  No regrets though, as I got to spread the word by spelling his name at least 50 times during the day.

Lacoste was slickened up by new designer Felipe Oliveira Baptista with an underlying message that the label shouldn’t be restricted to tennis clubs and can be worn in daily life.  I’ll happily take the very un-Lacoste shoes into my life Mr Baptista, ta very much.  Prabal Gurung went mad for purple and had the shade running in ink-blot type prints, tripping lamé, gradiated gowns with fluttery sleeves.  A change-up for the young gun that had Nicky Minaj wanting to check him out.  I tend to try to see as many smaller shows as possible in New York and was pleasantly surprised by Hexa by Kuho and their immaculate tailoring and unusual use of Russian nationalist badges.

The show of the day was inevitably Alexander Wang, who added BMX biking to the host of sports that the NYFW shows have been riffing off.  There was then a far more peaceful respite at Band of Outsiders where girls wore delicate toile de jouy prints and preppy separates with thin braces.

Altuzarra ended the day with his tech tropical collection.  I say it was more than a bit Ghesquière-inspired but still, anything tropical gets my vote.

Lacoste shoes

Prabal Gurung

Hexa by Kuho

Day 4

I made the mistake of watching the rolling coverage of the memorial of 9/11 in New York.  It made it even stranger to then go to Victoria Beckham‘s presentation where buzzy chat was abruptly stopped for a minute’s silence at two instances.  Then the noise resumed and we all hurrahed over the new slick collection filled with sportswear inspired detailing and beautiful fabrics.

DKNY was all about the big floppy sun hats as I could only see models’ heads bobbing up and down the catwalk.   Y-3 could legitimately go down the sporty route that everyone else has been on, but instead it felt like Yamamoto was injecting more of himself into it with bustles, beautiful volumes and nomadic layering.

I got high on incense and luxuriated in the Plaza Hotel’s lush settings as Thakoon went to India and the Wild West with his brilliant paisley filled collection.  It’s one of those that you’d either hate or love and I was definitely the latter.  Then it was back to Milk studios for a round of smaller presentations by one of my favourite lingerie labels The Lake & Stars and rising star Katie GallagherPatrik Ervell also presented his first womenswear collection which included an amazing pair of brogues with perspex wedges.  Tommy Ton of Jak and Jil then introduced me to the wonders of burger chain Five Guys.  I think I was determined not to eat anything that cost over $10 in New York….



The Lake and Stars

Patrick Ervell

Day 5

It’s always good to see Brits doing so well in New York and Preen turned out a brilliant collection that fused pretty florals with pixels.  There was something so accomplished about the collection.  Tea on the roof of Soho House made me want to pinch myself for ever complaining about the ‘stress’ of going to shows.

Donna Karan was topical with her Haiti-inspired collection that never referenced her sources in an obvious way.  The longest presentation award goes to Thom Browne, but it was well worth seeing his mise-en-scène of vaguely 1920s flappers trussed up in Browne’s bonkers mode of layering.  It was like watching a film play out before your eyes and left me wanting to see if wearing three jackets and having hunched shoulders would make life more interesting.  I had to stop by Ippudo for a bowl of their famed ramen just to try to squeeze in as many of my favourite NY eats as possible.  Then I was off to the final show of the day.  It felt weird seeing Marc by Marc Jacobs at night but the tingly anticipation was still there for his secondary line that was cleaned up, pared down yet still as fun and bright as it should be.


Donna Karan

Thom Browne

Marc by Marc Jacobs

Day 6

I had to pack up my whirlwind mess of a hotel room as I was to leave later on that day for a short trip to Paris, cutting my NYFW short.  I sobbed in my head over missing Proenza Schouler, 3.1 Phillip Lim and Marc Jacobs but still, my day ended with a high as I saw a good friend of mine, Michael Angel, do an intimate presentation with his Egypt-inspired collection.  This wasn’t ‘Carry on Cleo’ though, as Angel’s mother is from Egypt and so he took the textures of Egyptian papyrus and old photographs to create interesting textures and prints. Rodarte took me on a wildly different journey, traversing across Van Gogh’s sunflowers and starry nights  to an old Disney favourite, Sleeping Beauty.  It was an odd set of references that I’m still undecided about but I can firmly say that Rodarte’s return to their ‘pretty’ origins will probably be welcomed by a lot of dreamer girls out there.  Weirdly, Diesel Black Gold was my last show and actually felt very directional as the mix of metallics and preppy oxford shirts made for a potent combo.

There was one final pitstop at Xian’s Famous Foods for dishes like liang pi cold noodles that just doesn’t exist in London.

With several memory cards full, a heaving belly of good eats and an inkling of how the S/S 12 season would be shaping up, I flew on to Paris and then London for London Fashion Week.

Michael Angel



Diesel Black Gold

At Erdem s/s ’12…

September 20, 2011

The beautiful powder blue and white invitations we printed for Erdem’s s/s ’12 show reflected the designer’s perfectionism – once inside the ballroom venue in the basement of The Savoy, the inspiration was immediately apparent, with the room’s ornate panelling mirroring the lightness and colour of the invitations.

Erdem’s shows are like a trip to the ballet – feminine, romantic, meticulous and moving.  The detail in his floral prints and lace detailing has never been better, remaining true to this signature style while feeling fresh and new.

Hats and gloves were new details that made shift dresses feel fit for a duchess…

At Jonathan Saunders s/s ’12

September 19, 2011

On Saturday we eagerly headed off to see our latest collaborator, Jonathan Saunders’ hotly anticipated SS12 presentation at LFW. The Smythson invitations for the show gave a hint of the colours and style of the collections which featured ladylike 50s dresses, paisley silks, Bermuda shorts and pyjama tops in a myriad of pastel shades reinforcing Jonathan’s status as the colour master.

As we arrived at the venue – a beautiful building overlooking the Westway – the heavens opened revealing the most stunning rainbow… a sign of things to come?!

At the show:

The after party was held at Bread, Gordon Ramsey’s new venture. The food didn’t disappoint with mini burgers, oysters, pâté, and smoked salmon…