The culture of fashion: the creative legacy of Willi Smith



WilliWear designer Willi Smith courtesy Bonnie Brownfield

I finally managed to get stuck into the Willi Smith community archive – part of the recent Cooper Hewitt Willi Smith: Street Couture exhibition – with its immersive oral history from friends and customers. It’s so brilliantly done, giving you a real sense of the designer, the man and his influence on his creative community.

Sub-Urban WilliWear fall 1984 collection - photo by Max Vadukul

I didn’t realise what a big fashion name he was in the 80s. According to Apartamento magazine, “his face was easily recognisable by the average American.” He was turning over millions of dollars in profit and would have his driver pick him up from his TriBeCa loft in a limo every morning.

It suggests Halston levels of fame and a similar level of influence. Willi Smith, via his brand WilliWear, helped introduce the idea of streetwear to the masses, along with fashion-art collabs (such as his work with Christo, Barbara Kruger and Jenny Holzer), merch and gender-neutral fashion.

WilliWear X Barbara Kruger collab

The current issue of Apartamento has a big cover feature on Willi Smith and his interior taste (below). He had a ‘collage’ approach to decor and fashion design, mashing together his influences from African art and photography, Indian textiles, European furniture design and many then-obscure design references. Many of those references are now regular (to the point of cliché) parts of our design lexicon, but back in the pre-Internet age were only accessed by deep analogue research.

Interior of Willi Smith Lispenard Street Loft
Willi Smith Lispenard Street Loft - Photographed by Rosemary Peck
Willi Smith Tribeca loft interior

Anyway, I recommend diving head first into these online archives, the stories are pure joy!

WORDS: Disneyrollergirl / Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGES: Willi Smith courtesy Bonnie Brownfield; photo by Max Vadukul; Willi Smith wearing Barbara Kruger collab T-shirt; Tribeca apartment; Tribeca apartment by Rosemary Peck; Tribeca apartment
NOTE: Most images are digitally enhanced. Some posts use affiliate links and PR samples. Please read my privacy and cookies policy here

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Don’t snooze on these ultra-classic Sunspel knitwear deals



Sunspel grey lambswool crew neck

I’m not really into Black Friday hysteria but these Sunspel knitwear deals (up to 30% off) are worth checking out. It’s a good British-based brand to support with great products.

I recommend their most classic pieces – merino silk crew necks* and roll necks*, lambswool crew necks* and this nutmeg cable knit*, all worthwhile investment pieces that you’ll wear beyond a few seasons. I particularly like the depth of the ribbing on the neckline, cuffs and waistband of the crew necks (all too often, brands mess about with these – please don’t!) and the colour palette. Buy the women’s Black Friday knits here*.

From the men’s I like the lambswool crew necks* (especially in the grey melange, top), merino cable knits* and fisherman’s knits* (I think the smaller sizes will fit women too). See more men’s Black Friday knits here*. The offers run until Monday 30th November.

WORDS: Disneyrollergirl / Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGE: Sunspel via Dimitris Kolonas
NOTE: Most images are digitally enhanced. Some posts use affiliate links* and PR samples. Please read my privacy and cookies policy here

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Shop the post: Jo Malone Christmas collection 2020



Jo Malone Christmas Collection

There once was a time when Christmas wasn’t Christmas without the ‘Jo Malone Christmas in July’ extravaganza in the JML Townhouse. From the year they built a mini skating rink in the house, to the time Jonathan Saunders reimagined everything in candyfloss pink and green, you could never quite predict what the festivities would look like.

This year there was no Christmas in July, but instead we got a make-your-own-Christmas-cracker Zoom workshop in November (below). It was really rather excellent, with pre-prepared crafting kits, complete with golden scissors, ribbon reels, mini perfume samples and the chicest gold stick-on letters to personalise our efforts. Thanks to our crafting hosts Zack and Zeena, you can have a go here.

How to make a Christmas cracker instructions

Onto the Jo Malone Christmas collection itself. This year is all about the decadent 1920s, with a classic Art Deco theme of geometric graphics in black, cream and and silver. The limited edition Jo Malone advent calendar* has just dropped (below), while the limited edition fragrance is a beautiful faceted bottle of Midnight Musk & Amber* (below).

Jo Malone Christmas Midnight Musk and Amber
Jo Malone advent calendar 2020

Old seasonal favourite Orange Bitters returns in an extended line-up, including a mini travel candle* and liquidless diffuser*. (Orange Bitters is v popular with guys if you’re looking for gift inspo.) My favourite JML gourmand, Green Almond & Redcurrant* is also back, in a 50ml Deco-style bottle, while the English Pear & Freesia pearlescent scented body powder* (press sample) comes in a Daisy Buchanan-worthy compact. And of course there are small trinkets and tree ornaments, from the mini cologne and body cream duo* to the cult Jo Malone Christmas cracker*.

While non-essential stores in the UK are currently closed, you can buy all this online, at Jo Malone UK hereand Jo Malone U.S. here*Saks Fifth Avenue*, Net-a-Porter*, Mr Porter*, John Lewis*, Selfridges* and Lookfantastic*. Or shop directly from the grid below.
Jo Malone Green Almond & Redcurrant
Jo Malone Orange Bitters 100ml Cologne
Jo Malone scented body powder compact
Jo Malone Christmas Ornament duo

NOW CLICK BELOW TO SHOP THE POST (I MAY EARN A COMMISSION ON THE BASKET VALUE OF ITEMS BOUGHT*)…

WORDS: Disneyrollergirl / Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGES: Jo Malone Christmas collection
NOTE: Most images are digitally enhanced. Some posts use affiliate links* and PR samples. Please read my privacy and cookies policy here

CLICK HERE to get Disneyrollergirl blog posts straight to your inbox once a week
CLICK HERE to buy my book The New Garconne: How to be a Modern Gentlewoman



Inside Frank Sinatra’s make-up kit



Inside Frank Sinatra's makeup kit

I’ve inadvertently stumbled down a Bobbi Brown rabbit hole and found her online ‘archive’, which is a kind of blog. I feel it’s about time for another Bobbi Brown book…

Anyway, I love this story…

“One day, out of the blue, a girl walked into my then studio and dropped off a bag and asked the team to give it to me. I’ll never forget opening it and pulling out this cool, vintage makeup kit and reading the note. It was Frank Sinatra’s make-up kit. (more…)