Born in Autumn 2015, Catherine & Jean is a luxury lifestyle brand which celebrates English eccentricity and Italian quality. Founded in London, the brand offers distinctive, elegant and creative accessories for fashion, home and travel.
Catherine & Jean is inspired by the two grandmothers of Jane Smedley, the creator of the brand. Whilst Catherine's obsession with sartorial detail and perfection inspired a commitment to exceptional materials and Italian craftsmanship, Jean's vivacity inspired the expressive English design. All of the handbags are handmade in Milan with Tuscan calf leather, whilst all other pieces are made in England.
Though both Catherine and Jean differed in many respects, they shared a deep-rooted love for beautiful outfits. Catherine's love of luxury items which she cultivated whilst studying fashion at Central Saint Martins never left her: whilst she whipped up sensational party pieces for her daughter on her sewing machine, she also flew to Paris Fashion Week every year to commission personal couture items. In addition, she channeled this love of intricate detail into her expert lace needlework and award-winning commercial roses and orchids.
Jean, on the other hand, adored opulence. Her glamorous lifestyle meant that she had opportunities aplently to adorn herself with turbans, fur coats and sequinned evening wear. Her wardrobe was awash with colour, prints and, most notably, an overwhelming sense of vitality.
Encouraged by her grandmother Catherine, aged five Jane Smedley started her own fabric collection – initially spending her pocket money on cuts from markets and haberdashery shops and later collecting swatches from interior designers. This love of fabric soon translated into a love of fashion as her wardrobe quickly became saturated with beautiful vintage pieces that had once belonged to her grandmother Jean. However, despite having worked with a jewellery business for five years, she went on to gain a degree in literature from King's College London and then studied at the University of Cambridge. In spite of this, a few years and different career later, the lure of fabric and design became too strong to resist: after attending courses at London College of Fashion and Central Saint Martins, she joined her business partner and created Catherine & Jean.