Thursday, August 7, 2008

Q&A with Christie Smythe and Andrea Lenczner of Smythe

Double Breasted Schoolboy

The Canadian label, Smythe, is known for their super luxe jackets that are modern in tailoring but retain classic shapes. Their silhouettes will make any woman feel like she just walked off a movie set which is why they are popular with celebs such as Kate Hudson and Rachel Bilson and have appeared in many magazine spreads such as Elle and Vogue.

I had the chance to ask co-founders and designers, Christie Smythe and Andrea Lenczner about how they started Smythe, what their inspirations are and just how they makes such gorgeous jackets. (Photos: Smythe)

How and when did Smythe start?

We started in February 2004 with our first fall collection. I (Christie) moved home from New York. Andrea and I always dreamed of being partners and having a business together - when i moved home it made sense that this was the right time to do it!

What was your inspiration for Spring 08 collection?

The Spring 2008 collection is a happy collection with great bright wool jerseys in in turquoise and pink. We also introduced our Boyfriend blazer which is more relaxed in fit . . . the perfect slouchy blazer to go over everything from a mini dress to a skinny jean to a maxi dress. . . outerwear was also important. . . our coated linen utility jacket with nostalgic metal firemans buckles or our sophisticated tie neck trench.

Why jackets?

We wanted to do one thing and do it really well. We wanted to create a cherished piece for a woman's wardrobe and we don't believe in prescribing what a woman wears from head to toe.

How do you get your ideas?

From everything and everywhere: books, magazines, vintage, film, a woman walking down the street.

What is your creative process when designing a collection?

We concept according to lifestyle predominantly - we are always talking about what our girls like and what she needs in her wardrobe, what does the Smythe girl love to wear on the weekend, what does she desire for work etc.

Where can we buy your clothes?

Distribution is listed on our website.
What has been the response from celebrities?

We have been very fortunate to have some celebrities wear our jackets but it also just as thrilling to see a stranger in a Smythe - wearing it her way. some celebrities that have worn Smythe include Kate Hudson, Rachel Bilson, Blake Lively, Debra Messing, Jessica Simpson.

How did the celebrities start wearing your clothes?

Happy accident. We have not sent to celebrities - they have bought our jackets at retail.
What has been the response from other buyers?

The buyers have been very supportive from the beginning. We launched our collection with Holt Renfrew in Toronto in 2004 and we launched in the US with Barneys the following Fall. . . we are indebted to these stores for picking up our line and giving us our start.
Favorite stylish celebrity?

Kate Moss.
Favorite designers?

Oh so hard to list - but we love Balenciaga, Chloe, Max Mara, Pierre Cardin, Jeoffrey Beene.

Who would you love to dress?

Kate Moss.

Where are you based?

Toronto, Canada.

What kind of people buy your clothes?

All kinds. We have a very broad audience in terms of age and profession.

Where are clothes made?

All made in Canada.

When is your Fall collection coming out?

We are shipping our fall collection now!

Who are your style icons?

Audrey Hepburn, Lauren Hutton, Jane Birkin, Kate Moss.

Favorite collection this season?

We really like Alexander Wang.

What do you wear on a day-to-day basis?

Jeans, jacket. . . jeans, jacket.
Favorite accessories

We don't ear a lot of accessories except scarves.

Favorite pieces of clothing you own

The first jacket we ever made - a poppy red peacoat.
What was your experience at Parsons like?
Christie: Great - i absolutely loved it.
Andrea: Was an investment banker and then a buyer at Holt Renfrew before starting our business.

What was it like working at Celine and Prada? What did you do there? How did it shape your style?

Andrea: Prada was an internship while I was at Parsons and I worked for Celine for their US sales office during Paris runway shows helping to sell the collections. I really gained my experience in product at the design office of the Gap in New York where I worked for three years before moving back to Toronto to start our business.

Why did you get into fashion?

Because we truly love it. Andrea found herself reading Vogue rather than the Wall street Journal when she was in banking and that was a real sign for her.

How did your collective experience help you create Smythe?

Some people say Andrea is more Bergdorf's and i am more Barney's - she's a little more polished but at our core we share the same aesthetic and values. We always say we are each others "other husband." It's the perfect partnership and friendship.

Quilted Jacket in Floral

Tie Neck Trench Coat in Storm Grey

Box Pleat Jacket in Dove Grey

Outsized Check Jacket in Dove Grey and Cream

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