• What to see

    In a world of delicious devices, rabbit hole potential and endless discovery all at the tap of a screen, designer Sir Paul Smith has bravely turned his attention to the humble pencil.

    On 19th May, The Secret Life of the Pencil an exhibition by creative director Alex Hammond and photographer Mike Tinney, opens at Paul Smith on Albemarle Street. The show includes a collection of 52 hyper-real images of pencils belonging to some of the most highly respected creatives around; David BaileyWilliam Boyd,Celia BirtwellJay Osgerby and Stephen Fry (see image, left). For two weeks (until 3rd June) 16 of these original prints, alongside the pencils themselves, are up for auction via Paddle8, in aid of Children in Crisis.

    While technology may be removing the physical need for the pencil, there's no denying the different kind of creative magic that happens when lead marks paper. Plus you can't tuck an iPad behind your ear.


    The Secret Life of the Pencil by Alex Hammond and Mike Tinney
    Project Launch and Exhibition, 19th May-3rd June 2015
    Paul Smith, 9 Albemarle Street, London W1S 4HH
    Visit the auction here.

    Paul Smith offers all Vanity Fair A-List subscribers the chance to win one of five pairs of tickets to a champagne reception to The Secret Life of the Pencil launch on 19th May 2015. To enter this prize draw, please send your details (name, address, email, telephone) to RSVP.Events@paulsmith.co.uk by 12pm on Friday 8th May. Terms and conditions apply. Don't miss out on future offers, sign up to the A-List.

  • What to buy

    Hunting for party dresses amidst an ocean of choice at Selfridges, but there's one label that stands out not just for its easy but sophisticated design and great quality fabric, but unusally, for its splutteringly low price tag. 

    Self-Portrait is the creation of Malaysian-born, Central St Martin's trained designer Han Chong. His first endeavour was as creative director and co-founder of label Three Floor, before starting up Self-Portrait over a year ago, with the specific intention of delivering slick quality, high-end design at chops-lickingly sensible prices. There are great culottes, cut-out dresses, lace frocks and fine detailing that start from just £150 thanks to Chong's fabric and production contacts developed in Asia.

    The result: Self-Portrait is one of the best performing brands at Selfridges. So if you spot a look you like, don't hang about.


  • Where to go

    London Craft Week launches next week on 6th May, with exhibitions, talks and demonstrations scattered across the Metropolis. 

    Collect at the Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea is a selling exhibition of contemporary works from some of the world's leading makers and artists, while at creative incubator Cockpit Arts in Bloomsbury, 170 designer-makers display their works during the open studio period of 8-10th May. Over at The Crafted City in Southwark's Contemporary Applied Arts, a site specific pavilion has been built with master classes by furniture maker Angus Ross, demonstrations by textile artist Heather Belcher and a chance to meet makers, including ceramicist Daphne Carnegy, whose very own tiles adorn the pavilion.

    Meanwhile Fortnum & Mason on Piccadilly have a curated showcase of 25-leading designer-makers from Walpole's Crafted programme, there are cutting and tailoring demonstrations at Norton & Sons on Savile Row and carpentry demonstrations at Rose Uniacke in Pimlico, where craftsmen will be making the designer's take on the traditional Chinese Chequers board game.

    And that's not even the half of it. My advice is to scour the website and plan your week selectively, to source new skills, meet the makers and applaud the artisans.