Bill Skinner The Bill Skinner Studio

					focus I oNE To oNE




                      Bill Skinner
                      The Bill Skinner Studio
Bill Skinner has been designing collections for some of the UK’s leading fashion houses for more than 25 years
                 and is now looking to promote his own brand. Sarah Carpin visits him at his studio to find out more




12 Retail Jeweller May 2009
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                     T                                           “The most bizarre
Left: Bill Skinner               ucked away in the quiet Kent                                                       But he says his proudest moment was
in his design                    village of Otford, near                                                        being asked to produce a piece for
studio.
Above from left:
                                 Sevenoaks, The Bill Skinner
                                 Studio offers a design,
                                                                 commission was                                 Princess Anne, the Princess Royal.
                                                                                                                “She asked me to make a diamond rose
Pringle bangles/     manufacture and production service to       from an Arab sheik,                            brooch that was sold for a Riding for the
Vivienne             fashion brands wishing to produce their                                                    Disabled charity. I did enjoy that.,” he
Westwood Bear        own jewellery lines. With an impressive     who wanted a large                             says. A large framed photograph of
pendant/ crystal
brooch, all
                     list of clients, including Zandra Rhodes,
                     Vivienne Westwood, Pringle and Ted
                                                                 silver Mickey                                  Skinner meeting the Princess Royal at
                                                                                                                Gatcombe Park hangs in his study as
designed by Bill     Baker, Skinner leads a team of 15,          Mouse figure”                                  testimony of the commission.
Skinner              including designers, pattern makers and                                                        Other notable successes have been a
                     commercial managers.                                                                       collection for Zandra Rhodes in the
                          “With the expertise we have here, we   who wanted a large silver Mickey Mouse         1980s that took elements of her print
                     can sit down with any brand and analyse     figure that had to open up along the belt      designs and worked these into a strong
                     what it wants from its jewellery, who its   line, revealing a Browning automatic           jewellery collection. Skinner also
                     core customers are and come up with         pistol hidden inside.                          designed the crystal embellished bear for
                     mood boards to theme collections on,”           “I must have made tens of thousands        Vivienne Westwood and, more recently,
                     says Skinner. “Once a design direction is   of master patterns in my time,” says           a popular range of bangles for the Pringle
                     agreed, we then make the masters in the     Skinner, who still oversees all the models     fashion brand. “More and more fashion
                     workshop here. We have a small foundry      made at his studio. “I’ve made a silver        brands are realising that jewellery is an
                     for casting and we do enamelling and        model of the starting hut of the Cresta        important brand extension for them,”
                     stone setting here as well,” he says. For   run and all sorts of other strange objects.”   he says. “And with my experience I can
                     large-scale manufacturing, Skinner                                                         offer them a unique design and
                     works with a number of factories in the                                            WGSN    development service.”
                     Far East but offers his clients a full



                                                                                                                T
                     in-house product development and                                                                      his year, Skinner plans on
                     quality control service.                                                                              promoting his own brand,
                          Skinner’s career began in Hatton                                                                 hosting a Bill Skinner
                     Garden, working as a model maker with                                                                 showcase event for the
                     commissions for Asprey, Garrard,                                                           industry at the newly refurbished
                     Elizabeth Gage, Theo Fennell and Van                                                       Flemings Hotel in London’s Mayfair this
                     Cleef & Arpels. But it was a commission                                                    autumn. “Cufflinks are really my big
                     for fashion jewellery brand Butler &                                                       thing,” he says, showing a quirky
                     Wilson in the 1980s that propelled                                                         collection of cufflinks featuring bulls and
                     Skinner into the fashion jewellery                                                         bears (aimed at City workers) through to
                     business he has today. “And I have a                                                       pigs, dogs and horses. “I love working
                     wide range of clients, not just fashion                                                    with Swarovski crystals too, and have
                     brands. I produce objets d’art for                                                         more projects in the pipeline for this
                     museums and souvenir shops. I’ve made                                                      year,” he says. With no signs of a
                     pieces for the Tower of London,                                                            downturn in business, The Bill Skinner
                     Buckingham Palace and I’m currently                                                        Studio looks forward to expanding its
                     working on a project for the Imperial                                                      own quintessentially British design and
                     War Museum.”                                                                               development in 2009. l
                          Skinner also undertakes individual
                     commissions. The hardest pieces, he                                                        The Bill Skinner Studio 14 High Street,
                     says, are reproducing faithful model                                                       Otford, Kent, TN14 5PQ
                     reproductions of racing horses or pet                                                      T 01959 525505/ 07703 191391
                     dogs. “But the most bizarre was a           A Bill Skinner hatpin accessorises a           F 01959 525506
                     commission I had from an Arab sheik,        Roland Mouret Galaxy dress                     E bill@billskinnerstudio.co.uk


                                                                                                                               May 2009 Retail Jeweller 13

				
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