From designing for Asprey and Garrard to launching his own brand.
By Steve Spear
Asprey, Garrard, Theo Fennell, Elizabeth Gage, Zandra Rhodes, Paul Smith, Roland Mouret, Duchamp, Tateossian and Burberry. How’s that for a list of clients? Bill Skinner has worked with them all, and many more besides.
So, this is a designer known to designers; a name with some serious gravitas; a creative with clout. So when he decided to “become a brand” just two years ago, the industry sat up and listened. And bought. “I now bless the day we made the decision, it has been huge fun,” says Bill. “Our ambitions are high. A few years ago my son joined me in the business after serving in the army for six years. He has brought an element of leadership, structure, and efficiency to the business, and those qualities combined with the creative skills we have developed over the years, means we now have the ingredients in place for us to go from strength to strength.”
They are already looking pretty good, with about 70 stockists including House of Fraser and Asos all buying into Bill’s trademark mix of quality, craftsmanship and wit.
So while he has always been bound up in the world of the highest trends with Bill Skinner Studio, now it is the turn of the Bill Skinner brand to enjoy recognition for its trendsetting work. “I’m thrilled our work is attracting such attention, and we hope to be more than a mere trend. Our work is based on traditional values of skill and artistry.”
The plan has really come together over the past year and Bill is looking forward to extending the brand in some new product directions. “We are expanding our offer to include silver jewellery along with the possibility of some leather goods with our own distinctive take on them.” And Bill is expanding the amount of trade shows the brand attends both in the UK and also in Europe.
While he is a keen blues guitar player and loves skiing and waterskiing, Bill says he is at his very happiest when out with his son and daughter and they are taking the mick out of their old man.
And even as he gets some serious momentum in the next phase of his career, Bill can reflect on some earlier purple patches too.
“Undoubtedly, my career highlight to date was being asked to design and make a diamond rose brooch for Princess Anne and the Riding for the Disabled Association. It was a great honour to be asked, and the crowning glory of the whole thing was when I was presented to her at Gatcombe Park. I was also quite proud to be asked to make a couple of bits for Van Cleef & Arpels as they have always been my favourite jewellery house.”
And how did it begin? It couldn’t have been simpler. “I was lucky enough to be young in the times when you just answered an ad in the paper.”
This Hot 100 Tresor Paris Trendsetter profile was taken from the Professional Jeweller Hot 100 2013 book. To read the digital book in full, click here.