I may have touched on this subject briefly in an earlier post but having just received the latest Cath Kidson catalogue through the post, I was amazed at the amount of products they now offer. Initially I was OK with the pretty fabrics and made-up bits n bobs such as the peg bags, laundry bags, and sofa coverings as they are the natural progression for a fabric designer (after all that is what she is, is it not?)
However, then along came the crockery. Cotton candy sweet knives and forks, gazebos, kitsch camping gear for festival luvvies who wouldn’t be seen dead in anything from Millets, God forbid! Then came the seasonal goods (I always worry when seasonal goods come along – it smells of saturation).
And now, she has gone and committed (in my opinion) the cardinal sin: her own range of toiletries.
So imagine, a day-in-the-life of a die-hard Cath Kidson fiend:
She showers using her Cath Kidson shower gel before stepping out wrapping herself in her Cath Kidson towel, before slathering on her Cath Kidson body lotion and slipping on her Cath Kidson bathrobe. Of course, she selects a pretty floral Cath Kidson tea dress and slips on her Cath Kidson cutie-pie pumps (I don’t think she does underwear – yet).
She then proceeds to prepare a yummy lunch using a range of Cath Kidson crockery and glass ware, which sits atop her Cath Kidson oilcloth tablecloth, along side matching napkins and chair coverings. Before the guests arrive, she gives the dog his dinner, and he curls up in his rather flowery Cath Kidson dog basket. The guests arrive into a flurry of roses and dots, cowboys, stripes and stars. When everyone has gone home, she can put everything in the washing machine to be washed with the new range of Cath Kidson laundry products. Phew.
Ok, so maybe you wouldn’t have EVERYTHING Cath Kidson, but you could if you wanted, and that’s the point. I compare this to Ikea overkill: you know when you visit someone and you notice that flat-pack aura that radiates from every piece of furniture, the lighting, the rugs, the kitchen, the bedroom, even the plant pots have that ‘cloned’ look.
Ikea used to be a good place for getting really cheap and simple looking furniture – great for those kitting out a new home on a budget, but it’s not about being individual. How can it be when you can walk into a million homes across Europe and see the same print hanging on the wall, the same saucepans boiling away on the same cookers. It’s just not what good interior design is about.
I take the pick n mix ethos: if there is something you see that you like, sure, go ahead and buy it. But stop there. Put down the vase. Replace the storage box thingy on its shelf and walk away. Ask yourself if you really need it. You probably don’t.
Now I’m not critising the spirit of enterprise, but I can’t help feel a little dismayed. I picture the creative team at Cath Kidson sitting around the meeting room table. Someone has noticed that there is a new niche in the market for Cath Kidson wine. Yes, imagine it, says the product design manager, it would go really well with the gazebo – it matches and what’s more, it completes the picture of a rural ‘vintage’ idyll.
Well, thankfully this hasn’t happened yet, but I’m betting my bottom dollar that it has probably popped up in the design meetings at some point. So where do you stop? I fear Ms Kidson is saturating the market with sickly sweet ‘pseudo vintage’ loveliness and in doing so, the charm of the original fabrics disipates, and with it goes style, credibility and, my favourite, individuality. No one wants to have the same as everybody else.
So I have one last question: when’s the fragrance out?
Ok, so it might not be the most pressing debate in the entire world, but I have been thinking about these two queens of the chintz and wondered what people’s thoughts were on the encroaching popularity of the Cath Kidson empire – which, to my eyes, is the funkier, younger sister of the more sophisticated Laura Ashley.
Is Ms Ashley getting knocked off her throne (upholstered in the finest flowery fabric) by the eager young upstart that is Ms Kidson?
The subject raised its head after the new Cath Kidson shop on Park Street opened up recently – this veritable explosion of colour assaults my eyes daily. For a colour-lover like me, I am totally digging the new range of funky fabrics, even the latest range of clothes make you feel like you should be wearing clogs and cycling through the countryside with a small dog in your basket and paniers full of french bread and strawberries (are you with me?) However, there is the other camp that seem to think that Ms K is over priced and, ehem, a little over rated.
As a purveyor of all things vintage, I am surprised at myself for feeling a bit tired of the whole fakey retro stuff – but only because you can’t turn a corner now without being confronted by some type of 50s memorabilia of some sorts – surely Laura Ashley and Cath Kidson are breathing some life into the old?
We’ll see if Cath Kidson has the longevity gene like old Laura A, who let’s face it, has done a grand job of reinventing herself from the flowery church fete-type frocks of the 80s.
Bring on the revolution!