Interview with Christina Strutt from Cabbages & Roses
We had the pleasure of speaking to Christina Strutt, Creative Director of Cabbages & Roses earlier this week. The interview launches a series of Q&A’s with top British fabric designers to feature on our blog over the coming months!
Cabbages & Roses is a quintessentially eclectic English brand, creating beautiful yet functional clothing, accessories, homeware and fabric. We have been huge fans of the brand for many years, selling a selection of fabric designs in our showroom and online.
Q. What was your first job?
A. My first job was in the confectionery department of Fortnum & Mason, I loved my time there â€“ probably about 6 months. All the chocolates were made on the premises and they were truly the best chocolates in the world. Newcomers were encouraged to eat as much as they liked, supposing that after the first day no more chocolates would be consumed.Â Their trick didnâ€™t work on me, I continued feasting until I left – a skinny 17 year old.
Q. When did you realise you wanted a career in interiors and design?
A. I have never made a â€˜career choiceâ€™.Â My life and work has always followed the path of coincidence and happenstance. It was working on the pages of Vogue Living followed by marriage that lead me to set up my interior design company. Again, not a choice, but I kept being asked to decorate friendsâ€™ and acquaintancesâ€™ houses as my own home seemed, at the time, to be a desirable advertisement!
Q. Who or what inspired/influenced you to start Cabbages & Roses?
A. I started C&R with my friend Brigette Buchanan, with whom I worked at Vogue. Both of us lived in the country with children and both wanted to create the sort of things that we wanted in our homes but could not find on the market.
Q. Where did the name Cabbages & Roses come from?
A. In truth I cannot remember, but it is said that Brigette and I were discussing our favourite flowers â€“ mine cabbages which were growing beautifully in my garden at the time and hers, roses. The words felt right and so Cabbages & Roses was born.
Q. What are Cabbages & Roses core values?
A. To provide unique and desirable clothes and fabrics that are not available elsewhere. Our shops and our collections are designed by me and Violet Buchanan â€“ Brigetteâ€™s daughter â€“ and we very simply sell things that we love. Commercialism does not feature in our repetoire. We are careful with the way we produce our ranges ensuring that we treat everyone involved with respect and care. We try to make everything in England where possible and champion British made goods.
Q. Can you describe your working day?
A. No day is the same and can involve the many demands on my working life. We have two shops in Japan which involves viewing their licensed collections twice a year and meetings more often. We have two shops in London which need to be merchandised when new stock arrives. Violet and I work on collections a year in advance and go to Paris twice a year to source fabrics. We have meetings with the home department viewing new samples, and are working with John Lewis on a range of bed linen to be launched in January 2015. We are also working on some new wallpapers, and working on designing our exhibition space at Decorex this year. There are usually five or six interviews a month as well as doing photography for fashion and home.Â Having been unsuccessful in passing on our lease at our old shop on Langton Street, we are now working on opening it again, selling beautiful vintage pieces and clothing. This brings our shop total to three which all need to be merchandised and kept looking beautiful. I am writing at my kitchen table in the country and will be going to London this afternoon for meetings, making decisions on samples and painting our Langton Street shop. This year we held a â€˜Brocanteâ€™ in my garden in the country selling end of ranges, samples of clothing and fabrics â€“ it was a huge success. This was followed a week later by a garden tour of Japanese readers of a lovely garden magazine called Bises, this of course involved making my garden as beautiful as possible and work began in March, sowing seeds and planting. So as you can see, there is no normal workingÂ day, just a lot of juggling!
Q. Are any of the fabric designs in the Cabbages & Roses collection particularly close to you heart and if so, why?
A. I particularly love the fabric â€˜Catherine Roseâ€™ a gentle small rose fabric, it warms my heart every time I see it. It can be found in my garden, my bedroom, my bathroom wallpaper, and in my kitchen. Hatley is also a firm favourite, being our second print 14 years ago, I still love it as it is versatile and elegant and depending on the colour way can be contemporary or fresh, summer or winter, on clothes or at a window!
Q. The British are famous for their love of roses, do you have a favourite?
A. Gertrude Jekyll is my favourite rose, but also love Constance Spry, David AustinÂ does the best roses and I planted about 20 this year in my cutting garden and they did not disappoint!