Sep 2, 2009

Designer DNA: Smythe

By: Nancy Won

Author: Elle Canada

Sep 2, 2009

Designer DNA: Smythe

By: Nancy Won
Toronto-based label Smythe took the fashion world by storm in 2004 when designers Andrea Lenczner and Christie Smythe first introduced their now iconic tailored jackets. The luxe toppers flew off the racks and their designs have been wardrobe staples for in-the-know fashionistas ever since, including celeb fans like Anne Hathaway and Blake Lively.

Taking inspiration from their own lives, Andrea and Christie design jackets to fit a woman’s real lifestyle. “We’re both working mothers, so we have our social lives, our work lives, we love to travel, and we have our home lives with our kids,” says Andrea. “We try to design a jacket or coat for all those different scenarios and moods — every collection feels like someone’s closet.”

This fall look for comfy, worn fabrics that have a heritage feel. “We’re always inspired by fabrics that are nostalgic and take you back to your childhood,” says Andrea. Case in point, their new blazer for fall, dubbed the Dickens, has a worn, cherished, thrift store feel — part of another complete collection which also includes a classic le smoking, a fitted equestrian-inspired jacket and a slouchy boyfriend blazer. View the fall collection here.

Get to know the ladies behind the fashion world’s favourite jacket with this month’s scintillating installment of Designer DNA. Want to know what they agree on, how they’re different and how close they really are? Read on for the scoop on the girls of Smythe.

What do you consider your worst trait?
Christie: Hm…what’s my worst trait? You know.
A: You care too much if people like you.
C: Yeah.
A: And I find that irritating.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
A: Peace of mind.
C: Agree. An uncluttered mind.

If you could choose an occupation other than your own what would it be?
C: A florist.
A: A bird watcher.
C: Oh god, why?!
A: It would give me peace of mind and then I’d have perfect happiness!

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
“Oh my god.”
C: “Whatever” and “love.”

What is your most treasured possession?
A: Our families and each other.
C: Aw, I’m so touched!

Lessons learned and signature looks on the next page ...

What are fall's hottest trends? Find out here!


What’s your usual?
White wine.
C: Red wine.
A: Christie will drink anything. I don’t know why she was so specific.

Any tattoos?
A: Ooooh, not I!
C: I do, but I’ll keep it a secret. It’s not some tired out dolphin, though!

Heels or flats?
A: Heels, definitely.
C: Heels, I guess…when Andrea makes me.

iPhone or Blackberry?
A: Blackberry.
C: Moleskine daytimer.

Latest beauty discovery?
C: Ooooh, should we give it away?!
A: Okay. We use a liquid bronzer from Clinique…for MEN.
C: It’s really good because it doesn’t have any sheen or sparkle, so it doesn’t give you away.
A: And it lasts longer.

Fashion trend you wish would disappear?
C: Acid wash jeans. Not happy to see that again.
A: Lululemons outside of the gym. That’s a huge pet peeve.

What’s the biggest lesson you learned this year so far?
A: Life is precious. We both learned that this summer.

How would you describe each other’s signature look?
A: Christie is haute bohemian. Always in a high waisted, wide leg jean.
C: Andrea’s a little bit beatnik, a little bit rich rock ‘n roll. So skinny, skinny jeans, with a beaten up boot, lots of bracelets and tousled hair…with diamonds thrown in.

What is your greatest extravagance?
C: Mine is eating out and ordering in.
A: Vacations with my husband — it’s not that it’s often, but we go on niceys.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
C: My daughter.
A: Definitely, our kids. And the business.
C: Our other child.

What is your Twitter policy?
A: I would join, but I don’t know how. I’d like to know what it’s all about.
C: I’m never going on that. I’m worlds away from Twitter.
A: Christie is a Luddite.

What do you value most in your friends?
BOTH: Honesty.

Describe your perfect Sunday afternoon.
A: Flipping through magazines with a coffee on a dock somewhere.
C: Oooh, same thing but by the pool. With lunch!

Finish this sentence:
A: “People think I’m the meanie but I’m really the softie.” Christie’s the tough one. Everybody thinks I’m the difficult one and Christie’s got this sunny, sunny personality, but she’s the tough negotiator, not me.
If I get pushed to a place, then I get really tough. Andrea starts out tough but she’s got a marshmallow centre.

What will you do when you retire?
A: Check into the same nursing home as Christie.
C: Yeah, the Betty Ford!

More designer profiles
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We play 20 questions with Marika Brose
Michael Kors knows what women want

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Designer DNA: Smythe