Connolly England, much like dunking a digestive in a tea or unnecessarily plethoric acts of politeness, is synonymous with Britishness. Having started in 1878 as a family business of sadlers and shoe smiths, they’ve continued to produce the highest quality leather, as well as expanding into ready to wear, whilst still honouring British craft. Their spiffingly good chaps!

In 2016, the brand took pride and place at No. 4 Clifford Street, which is where they’ve continued to call home since. More than just a retail store, each year sees a new summer exhibition take residence within the townhouse, and despite the added logistical issues caused by the pandemic, this year is no exception.

Curve 1 By Alba Hodsoll.

Using the age old tradition of having ‘something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue’ at a wedding as the key theme – June is historically known as the month of marriage, which is something many weren’t able to experience this year – the exhibition looks into this concept through the mediums of art and fashion. With every piece in the exhibit spanning the many shades of blue (surprise, surprise), they all explore the idea of reusing, recycling and re-honouring. The three female artists on offer have all previously shown at a Connolly exhibition, but all work in extremely different ways: Alba Hodsoll’s minimal ink drawings outline the female body, the mystical sculptures made by Lucille Lewin out of individual pieces of ceramic and glass, and the beautiful alchemy of Carolyn Quartermaine’s abstracted cyanotypes, all explore the different essences of summer.

One of Frank Akinsete's reworked wonders

As well as these artworks on display, Frank Akinsete, the king of vintage style, has also joined the Connolly family. As a stylist, brand consultant and lecturer that also ran a Portobello Market Boutique pre-coronavirus, his years of promoting a reusing rather than wasting mentality within fashion make him a perfect candidate for this theme. During lockdown, Akinsete spent his days giving a new life to old treasures by dying them in shades of blue. After popping to his friend’s Carolyn Quartermaine to deliver some vintage clothes, her adoration of the blue pieces led to her introducing his clothes to Isabel Ettedgui, owner of Connolly, who became equally obsessed. Now a curated selection of vintage items and treated pieces hang on a rail in the exhibition, which he's cutely named his curation “Rocky” after his Blue Burmese Tom Cat.

While some may have been feeling a little blue with the outcome of this summer, this reinterpretation of the shade will only have you leaving with smiles from ear to ear.

The Connolly summer exhibition runs from 2nd July until 2nd September 2020 at 4 Clifford St, London.

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