People of Note
There are people who, through prominence, genius or determination, become synonymous with entire eras or whole professions. Historians and journalists wield them as symbols to summon a mood, and call to the reader’s mind the prevailing trends or causes of a time.
While such individuals’ experiences may be out of the ordinary, the simple act of documenting them is quite the opposite. From legends of the silver screen and iconic tastemakers, an impressive ensemble of planners and plotters have enjoyed long reigns in their fields with a Smythson agenda in hand.
Sir Hardy Amies, the Queen’s official dressmaker, traced his appointments on pages of pale blue; correspondence and 'bon mots' with Lady Hulse intimately noted. When Sotheby’s auctioned Vivien Leigh’s Smythson journal, they made note of her tender records that sat alongside rehearsals, stolen moments with Laurence Olivier and a nascent career, such as her first days on set filming 'Gone with the Wind'.
Elsewhere, between the leather covers of Sir Ranulph and Ginny Fiennes’ expedition agendas, exploratory tales that reach to the very corners of the globe are mapped out in cursive ink. Grace Coddington’s schedule snaps an unposed portrait of fashion’s most defining month, captured in an illustrious tangle of names, notes and forget-me-nots.
These agendas didn’t arrive in such pockets by chance. Frank Smythson was fond of pushing the envelope. To experiment with textures, and toy with what society might expect from a stationer, became his early mission. Frank’s 1908 design of the Panama arrived in step with a changing world; one where swirling world events, the new demands of travel and bustling urban life demanded a new craft. Designed in its day for those looking forward, it now marks a chapter in our story that allows us to look back. Today, a new generation of tastemakers take the Panama in hand, carving out a story of their own.
People have done extraordinary things with their Smythson agenda in tow. We are beyond 100 years from Frank's invention, and the world spins faster now. What we still have are minutes, hours, and days, where our lives open ahead of us and fill with possibility, as we flip through the past, and into our future.