Fashion: Off the peg: A new diary every season? Yes, darling, as long as it's a Smythson

Have you ever seen two fashion editors

play product poker on the front row at the catwalk shows? It is a no-cards-necessary duel. Grande Dame X perches on her gilded seat shrouded in a charcoal grey pashmina shawl. Grande Dame Y perches next to her and casually fingers her shahtoosh stole. Made from the soft underbelly fur of Tibetan antelopes, shahtoosh is expensive and - unlike pashmina - illegal. Game on.

Madame X pulls a silver Mont Blanc pen from her black leather Dunhill clutch bag. With a sly sideways glance, Madame Y "accidentally" drops a pair of sterling silver Gucci handcuffs from her Prada purse. With a flourish, Madame X takes out her Smythson baby-pink glove-leather notebook. Game to Madame X.

Smythson's pink leather notebook, embossed with the legend "Think Pink", is as rare as a Tibetan antelope's tummy and just as silky smooth. It was the key piece in Smythson's spring/summer stationery collection and fashion editors would give the blood of their first-born to possess one.

The fact that Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman, Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, photographer Mario Testino and designer Antonio Berardi are Smythson devotees is not in itself particularly mind-blowing unless, of course, you're a fashion editor. Smythson is significant because it has successfully given a Nineties face-lift to a brand born in 1887. Smythson has a fistful of Royal warrants and could list Grace Kelly, Sigmund Freud and Cecil Beaton as illustrious past customers. But what it couldn't do was entice the new generation - until creative director Samantha Cameron decided to "Think Pink".

You'd think our race towards the millennium with e-mail and the Internet would have killed the bespoke stationery business. "Quite the opposite," says Cameron. "Writing letters and sending invitations has become a luxury and luxury is a key word in fashion. I've noticed people want more ostentatious invitations, diaries and stationery. Pieces must reflect their personality and their times."

"Think Pink" (pounds 25) and the Smythson fashion diary are just the beginning in Smythson's hip replacement (bear in mind this store still sells "Game Books" and "Opera Diaries"). Cameron's genius is in preserving the Smythson charm while subtly paring down the classic products to appeal to modernists. So, gradually, the oxblood leather desk sets give way to pieces such as Cameron's minimal camel-coloured leather secretaire which would segue effortlessly into a Wallpaper room set.

For autumn/winter '98, Cameron has produced a limited edition box (pounds 19) of correspondence cards and envelopes in the season's signature dove-grey. Each card has a peacock feather attached. Smythson also has a bespoke service and can produce the fashion diary in any colour you desire. One eccentric Smythson client orders the season's new colour stationery and then demands the tissue lining in the envelopes and borders of letter paper match the colour of her lipstick. Now that's product poker. James Sherwood

Smythson of Bond Street, 40 New Bond Street, London W1, enquiries 0171- 629 8558.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Service Manager

    £30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has over 50 years'...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £50,000

    £25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's leading...

    MBDA UK Ltd: Electronic Sub-System Design Verification engineer

    Flexible working, annual bonus, pension & more.: MBDA UK Ltd: What’s the oppor...

    MBDA UK Ltd: Test Systems Architect

    Competitive salary & benefits: MBDA UK Ltd: What’s the opportunity? MBDA has e...

    Day In a Page

    Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

    The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

    How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
    Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

    Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

    'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

    How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

    Art attack

    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
    Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

    Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

    Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
    Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

    'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

    Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
    10 best wedding gift ideas

    It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

    Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
    Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

    Paul Scholes column

    With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
    Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

    Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

    Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
    Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

    Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

    The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
    Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
    Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

    Fifa corruption arrests

    All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
    Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

    The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

    In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

    Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
    Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

    How Stephen Mangan got his range

    Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor