>> Ever since I worked with Smythson on a few guest posts on their blog and visited their factory in Wiltshire to get some Style Bubble stationery made up using all the manual techniques that make onlookers go "Oooh how quaint and awesome!", their leather trinkets and notebooks have slowly crept into my life not as decadent throwaway items but as sturdy luxuries – things that really do enrichen my life with every use. That will sound terribly elitist but when a leather Blackberry holder or a dinky little camera case catches people's eyes just by the merit of their leather quality or their unusual colour ways, you have to admit that in some cases the phrase "You get what you pay for" can really be understood. I like that Smythson occupies a quiet presence in the luxury strata of bling, sheeny shiny campaigns and hard-sell gloss. The quiet rustle of their featherweight pale blue paper in their signature notebooks or the the discreet font they use whispers to you quite gently.
Therefore, it didn't surprise me that they've recently released an extremely cute video summary of their 125 year history. There's nothing grandiose about it. The bags, wallets and other miscellaneous leather goods from their archives, which I enjoyed seeing when I went to visit Smythson HQ, are used to great effect in this video directed by Virgillo Villoresi. The decades play out in playful stop animation using visually stimulating devices like the zoetrope or optical art from the sixties and brings us right into the present, a bag from its new Eliot collection.
They have a surprisingly varied history to draw inspiration from. There was a time when Smythson was making everything from fur muffs to sardine servers. However, they've linked up The Bond Street bag dated to 1900, one of the first that Frank Smythson made to the present Eliot collection by placing similar striped linings in all the totes, clutches and cases. The lining is also shot with a Nile Blue thread, a colour that immediately makes me think of Smythson whenever I see that reassuring shade of blue. The tagline on the ad that says "The Bond Street Bag will always hold just a little more" immediately brought back memories of trying to find the biggest leather bag I could just so I could re-enact the Mary Poppins' carpet bag scene. I'd stomp around with my pretend carpet bag saying things like "Spit spot!", bossing my sister around when tidying up our room. That developed into my late teenage obsession with finding early 20th century leather doctor's bags to tote around my books as to be distinguished and "different".
With a Tsumori Chisato umbrella, a very roomy Eliot tote bag and my own hat and trench coat ensemble, I still harbour dreams of reaching into the bottom of a bag and pulling out a very decorative lampshade or gilt mirror. The very act of going elbows deep into a bag and remembering my childhood play-acting are the simple joys in life that doesn't necessarily need to be found in a really expensive bag but still, Smythson are laying their classic luxury gauntlet down quite convincingly, judging by this one specimen.