Thought Smythson was just diaries, notepads, and embossed envelopes? Think again. The brand has always designed handbags but it is only in recent seasons that it's started gaining (justifiable) attention for it. And it’s all down to the new design director, Rory O’Hanlon’s all-seeing attention to detail. O’Hanlon took the time to talk to us about the spring ’14 collection that draws inspiration from the brand’s signature Panama diary. “Everything starts with the Panama diary. It is about the iconic grain of leather that has been with us for over 100 years. I use this diary every day. So, we wanted to take this diary and morph it into large leather goods.”
The bags are a testament to the brand’s quest for leather goods that feel indulgently luxe but have a practical point of view, too. Bucket bags and totes were created in elegant shades of gray and champagne, with pops of canary yellow and Kelly green. An ingenious finishing touch inside many of the larger totes was detachable clutches. Two for one. And super handy.
The brand also teamed up with London artist and illustrator Quentin Jones to explore the highly personal relationship some of Smythson’ most famous clients have had with their diaries. Kylie Minogue, Sigmund Freud, Dita Von Teese, and Katherine Hepburn are just some of the A-listers featured in this specially commissioned artwork series. Some of the stars (the ones still with us, anyhow) donated their actual diaries for Jones to use in her 3-D cutout illustrations. “It was the thoughts that went into the diary that became the inspirational starting point for each piece,” explains Jones, “each sketch becomes an illustration of their thoughts.”
The collection is on view in the flagship store on Bond Street till September 21, as well as a thrilling selection of diaries from the company's archive, owned by Sigmund Freud and Katherine Hepburn to name just a few. For the first time, you can glimpse the personal missives written in their own fair hands. Beats our scrawls about picking up dry cleaning, for sure.