<< back to News

Loyal to London


1 Paul Smith {mosimage}

Studied at: Smith worked his way up by managing a boutique and later his own small shop. During this time he took evening classes in tailoring and received help from Royal College of Art graduate – Pauline Denyer – who later became Mrs. Paul Smith. 

Started Own Business: Opened his first tiny shop in 1970 with his own savings stocking some of his own creations as well as various other designers. Made his catwalk debut in 1976 with Paul Smith menswear.

Paul Smith Style: British traditional style injected with wit, humour and a bold sense of colour.

Latest S/S 2005 Collection: Inspired by the fun and frolics of a beautiful English summers afternoon. Printed cotton dresses and trench coats were displayed alongside stripy shrunken sweaters and neat pencil skirts. Silhouettes were kept simple and clean with a nod to the season’s key trends such as kaftans worn over cutesy shorts and a feminine relaxed mood.

Other Notable Achievements:
– In 1991 Smith was awarded with the British Designer for Industry award.
– He has scooped up GQ’s Designer of the Year award several times.
– For his services to fashion design he was knighted Sir Paul Smith by the Queen in 2000.
– Smith was the subject of an exhibition called ‘True Brit’ displayed at the Design Museum London. ‘True Brit’ also traveled to Japan.
– The Paul Smith brand now includes 12 separate collections that crossover from fashion to furnishings, fragrances, jewellery and more.
– Paul Smith is now wholesaled to 35 countries and has 14 shops in England. The label has a huge following in Japan where on visits Sir Paul gets mobbed like a rock star.
– The Paul Smith website now includes an online shop.

Says: “You can find inspiration in everything, and if you can’t – look again.”


2 Jasper Conran {mosimage}

Studied at: Parsons School of Design in New York.

Started Own Business: Showed his very first collection in 1978.

Jasper Conran Style: Simple and refined with well-executed cuts and a timeless quality.

Latest S/S 2005 Collection: Bold and body-conscious, this season Jasper Conran takes bright and flirty inspiration from the poolside cocktail set. Chiffon cover-ups reveal scanty bikinis while eveningwear gets a dose of Conran elegance, floor skimming with a thigh-high slash here and a drop of a neckline there. 

Other Notable Achievements:
– Conran has also become very much respected as a costume and set designer. His first commission was to design costumes for Jean Anouilh’s ‘The Rehearsal’ in 1990.
– The following year he picked up the Laurence Olivier Award for ‘Costume Designer of the Year.’
– Conran has designed for numerous productions since including: ‘My Fair Lady,’ ‘Tombeaux’ for the Royal Ballet, ‘The Nutcracker Sweeties,’ ‘Swan Lake,’ ‘Sleeping Beauty,’ and ‘Edward II.’
– By 1996 Conran climbed aboard the Designers at Debenhams ship with a capsule collection simply named ‘J.’ The success of this line saw him branch out over the years and now the J range includes: womenswear, hosiery, jewellery, Kidswear and homeware.
– Conran has also expanded into other design areas such as – furnishings and fabrics for the Designers Guild and Crystal for Waterford Wedgwood Group.

Says: “All I do is offer an idea, a way of looking at something differently. A way, I hope, of bringing pleasure.”


3 Nicole Farhi {mosimage}

Studied at: Studio Bercot in Paris.

Started Own Business: After moving to England to design for the French Connection Group Farhi launched her own label in 1983.

Nicole Farhi Style: Neutral shades in touchy feely fabrics and soft fluid forms.

Latest S/S 2005 Collection: The 1950s meets English garden tea party. Delicate floral chiffons give a fluid, feminine feel while tailored denim jackets, cropped trousers and practical shorts add that wearable touch. The palette is muted and the prints subtle with plenty of belted waists to show-off those womanly curves.

Other Notable Achievements:
– Farhi picked up the ‘Classic’ award at the British Fashion Awards in 1989.
– She has also won the ‘Contemporary’ category three times.
– Farhi has created two restaurant/bars called – ‘Nicole’s,’ within her stores. The first one opened in her flagship store on New Bond Street, London in 1994, followed by a second version in New York.
– By 1998 Farhi also branched out into homeware.
– In recent years she has also embraced technology by satellite linking her London catwalk show to a screen in her New York store, bringing the show to her New York clients.

Says: “You should be true to yourself in the clothes you wear.”


4 John Rocha {mosimage}

Studied at: Croydon College of Design & Technology.

Started Own Business: Started his own design business in 1977 but wasn’t known as a catwalk designer until the early 1990s.

John Rocha Style: Traditional crafts such as crochet and macramé merged with fluid, often Eastern inspired silhouettes plus a few raw, organic edges.

Latest S/S 2005 Collection: Combined futuristic fabrics with his fluid, loose style and arts & crafts features. Sticking with black and white Rocha’s collection was concise and to the point with plenty of intricate design details to check out.

Other Notable Achievements:
– In 1994 Rocha became ‘Designer of the Year.’
– By 1997 he designed a John Rocha Waterford Collection that included tableware, crystal and lighting.
– Rocha has also become available to the masses via his capsule collections for Designers at Debenhams.
– His first interior design project was for the Morrison Hotel in Dublin, which opened in 1999.
– By 2000 he got involved with a design scheme for a range of luxury apartments and its surrounding areas in Liverpool.
– In February 2002 Rocha received his C.B.E. for his contributions to British fashion.

Says: “I find as much joy in the creation of a simple, perfect and affordable china bowl as the interior of a four-star hotel. It is, after all, the same thought process and the same essential elements – structure, texture and finish must be considered. I want to make beautiful things. I want to make people feel good.”

5 Betty Jackson {mosimage}

Studied at: Birmingham College of Art.

Started Own Business: Launched Betty Jackson Ltd with her husband and business partner – David Cohen in October 1981.

Betty Jackson Style: Flattering and wearable style that liberates the female form. Beautifully cut trousers and luxurious knits, Jackson likes to use an eclectic range of references from trips abroad to people she admires.

Latest S/S 2005 Collection: Jackson opened her show with a range of delicate butterfly print dresses and continued with a journey of chilled-out summer attire. Tiny shorts, cropped trousers, tank top knits, swimwear and tie-belted skirts ranged from neutral and earthy shades to muted green, blue and fresh white. While the finale took a nod towards Morocco with slouchy kaftans decorated in a smattering of silver sequins.

Other Notable Achievements:
– British Designer of the Year in 1985.
– Received her M.B.E. in 1987 from the Queen for services to British industry and exports.
– Worked as a Design Consultant to Marks & Spencer and Courtaulds Textiles.
– Produced a capsule collection for Freeman’s Mail Order Catalogue in 1997, which included clothing, shoes, jewellery and homewares. 
– In 1999 Betty bagged the Contemporary Designer of the Year award.
– By 2000 Betty was selected by Marks & Spencer to design the ‘Autograph’ collection.
– Betty’s creations can now be found globally – along with her two annual mainline collections she also has two diffusion ranges: ‘BJ Accessories’ and ‘BJ Knits.’ 
Says: “Each new collection gives you a buzz, it’s a feeling you don’t get with anything else. Once that goes away I think its time to stop.”


By JoJo Iles


<< back to News