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Cath Kidston's Vintage Design Success
The Cath Kidston Story
To my mind you know you've arrived when you're asked to go on that long running and much beloved BBC Radio 4 programme Desert Island Discs and it was here that I first heard the Cath Kidston story.
One theme that runs though Cath Kidston's designs, her business and her own account of her life is cheerfulness and as if to illustrate this the disc she chose to take to her desert island was Always look on the bright side of life.
My good friend and provider of many of the objects featured in my articles, Sue, happened to have these fun mugs and pretty bag. I must be one of the few not to have any Cath Kidston items, but I'm going to remedy that as soon as I can.
Spotty, dotty and floral Cath Kidston iphone cases to buy on-line
- Cath Kidston iPhone 4 Shopping Guide
The Cath Kidston story is one of a monster commercial success, capitalising on vintage fabric designs, fun spots and an array of child-like colours.Cath Kid
Friend's new Cath Kidston bag with spots and flowers
Who is Cath Kidston?
Born 6 11 1958 in London and brought up on borders of Wiltshire and Hampshire, she enjoyed a privileged home with a nanny and pony. She didn’t go to school until 8 and was instead educated at home by a governess. As a child she loved to shop, to buy anything, and played shop and played at home-making. As an adult she enjoys hand sewing.
But life was not all sweet. Her father, whose family ran Clyde shipping business, died from a brain tumour when he was aged 50 when Cath was only 19, and her brothers were 11 and 14. Cath’s mother began taking in guests and cooking and selling the food in the local markets.
She met her partner, Hugh Padgham, a British record producer, when she re-designed the interior of his house for him. Later on she had the pleasure of moving into that very house.
Disaster struck again when Cath was in her mid-thirties and she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Fortunately it was caught early but she was advised not to have children. Although she has a stepdaughter to whom she is very close, she tells Kirsty Young how she has filled the gap by nurturing her business.
Is Cath Kidstone the New Laura Ashley?
When I was leaving home to go to University, Laura Ashley was all around us, and I think it safe to say that most women could be divided into followers of Laura Ashley or Punk. Cath Kidstone could be seen as the New Laura Ashley.
Cath Kidston Ltd was founded in 1993 when Cath opened a tiny shop in London's Holland Park and today, 2011, it’s a business with an annual turnover of 50 million pounds. You can buy English Rose peg bags all over the world and the company employs over 650 members of staff.
She had done her apprenticeship, as it were, in the field of interior design by working for Nicky Haslam (1984-87) doing everything from walking his pekingesedogs to finding fabrics. She met many famous people and even measured up Ava Gardener’s blue and white chintz curtains.
After leaving Nikki she had idea for shop full of vintage (junk); Curtainalia & Interior Design store 1987-92. She found the bits and pieces in car boot sales and then did them up for re-sale. One of her best buys was when she bought a pair of leather armchairs bought for £50 and promptly re-sold them for £1000. Even today she tells us that she can’t resist a car boot sale.
When asked at point she felt that she went from a hand made concern to a global business she replied that it was when she opened her 2nd shop, feeling that she had overstepped the mark. Today she has 40 shops in the UK and another 10 abroad. She was awarded an MBE for services to business in 2010.
What is the appeal of Cath Kidston designs? Is it that she takes us back to a time when things were simpler? Cath tells us that customers say the designs “cheers them up.” Well, if that is the case, I think Cath has a very rosy future!
Cath Kidston Table Cloths In France
Cath Kidston's Desert Island Discs
- Little Red Rooster by the Rolling Stones
- Cheek to Cheek by Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald
- Walk on the Wild Side by Lou Reed
- In the air tonight by Phil Collins
- Can’t let go by Lucinda Williams
- Lets get it on by Marvin Gaye
- Always look on the bright side of life by Monty Python
- Be your baby tonight by Bob Dylan
Cath's Luxury is a hot water bottle to keep her warm at night. Her book choice to take, along with the bible is Larousse Dictionary so that she can while away her time learning French. Her desert island disc to keep her company is the cheerful Always look on the bright side of life by Monty Python.
Listen to Cath Kidston's Desert Island Discs Fri, 29 April 2011
- BBC - BBC Radio 4 Programmes - Desert Island Discs, Cath Kidston
Designer Cath Kidston joins Kirsty Young to choose her Desert Island Discs.
Books and Publications
Vintage Style (1999), Tips for Vintage Style (2004), Cath Kidston In Print (2005)