It’s seems that the world is starting to fall back in love with old-fashioned communication. Letter writing. This dying art seems to have been snatched from the clutches of extinction with our renewed love for fashionable stationery and the intervention of the Government. As new chic stationery shops pop up around the country, like Choosing Keeping on Columbia Road, the Government will introduce in September 2014, for students aged 11-14, the ‘study of business and personal letters in the correct form’. In April 2009 a study by the Assessment and Qualification Alliance found that because of students reliance on ‘text speak’ and constant digital communication the vast majority of students could not lay out a formal letter, spell ‘sincerely’ correctly or even sign off their names. Hopefully, this will soon change.
To many it seems archaic and well, pricey to send a letter. You may have noticed if sent Christmas cards recently, a first class stamp jumped from 46p to 60p in 2012. Texts, email, instant messages, e-cards are relatively cheap in comparison, but, although stamps seem to be costing more and are set to rise again, for now our interest in letter writing and all that goes with it is insatiable. In 2010 John Lewis saw a 177% rise in sales of premium stationery, and from 2010 – 2011 luxury stationers Smythson saw a 400% increase in profits to £2.8 million, probably helped by their massively successful fashion collaborations since 2010 with Erdem, Holly Fulton and Jonathan Saunders. So it’s obvious, we Britons can’t get enough of the stuff and now the rest of fashion world is getting in on the act, and I for one couldn’t be happier. (Just for some background information on my love of stationery. I used to carry my baby powder smelling stationery in a lunch box to school when I was seven and I called it ‘fancy paper’. I traded it by the sheet in the playground for whatever was on offer, like skipping ropes and chocolate eclairs, a sort of stationery hustler, if you will. So you can see now why the thought of designer stationery excites me. Grown up ‘fancy paper’ maybe without the baby powder scent.)
Walt Whitman said about letter writing that ‘the art of art, the glory of expression and the sunshine of the light of letters, is simplicity.’ Spot on I say, but why not dress it up in a spectacular outfit from Louis Vuitton, Christian Lacroix or Opening Ceremony?
Last month Louis Vuitton opened a pop-up boutique, Cabinet d’ecriture for their writing instruments and stationery in St Germain des Pres in Paris, once the stomping ground of famous writers Jean-Paul Sarte, Simone DeBeauvoir and Hemingway. On sale will be paper, ink and writing instruments created by St Dupont for Louis Vuitton, alongside manuscripts and the original letters of Louis Vuitton, the brands founder. Christian Lacroix also has a maximalist stationery line, the Papier collection. It is a celebration of the French ‘joie de vivre’ and includes journals, notebooks and correspondence cards reflecting the designer’s love of theatrical and opulent design. Most recently on the fashion stationery scene is Bazaar editor at large Derek Blasberg’s collaboration with Opening Ceremony, the product of which is The Handwritten Letter Helper. The collection includes eight fun and playful letter templates in rainbow hues to be personalized by the sender, with anniversary, thank you, love notes, birthday wishes and congratulations. In a recent interview Blasberg said that “the good thing about a personal letter is that they’re personal, unique and, novel in this day in age, un-forwardable (…) I still think there’s nothing more touching than a note.”
Finally my stationery box is starting to resemble my hoped for wardrobe, but it’s dreaming of Chanel. Chanel stationery. Enough said. The excitement is getting the better of me.