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Ten Minutes with Simon Kneen

A Designer and Creative Director



Simon Kneen was executive vp of design and creative director for Brooks Brothers and Banana Republic for decades, and now spends his time between New York City and Litchfield County designing products for his fine Italian-made, leather-goods company: Grey New York Grey New England. We sat down with Simon, getting to know more about who he is, where he comes from, and how he landed in Litchfield County.

Where did you grow up?
I was born in the UK a stones-throw from Penny Lane in Liverpool, grew up in Ireland and  Northern England, then went to fashion school in London. 

What brought you to Litchfield County? 
After spending most weekends and summers out on Long Island, we needed somewhere to walk our dogs and feel free from the New York fashion scene. We rented at first, then found our home in Washington, which was really only meant for weekend getaways. However, the longing to be here more and more ultimately inspired us to move here full-time about a year ago.

What do you love about Litchfield County?
It is simple, beautiful, and quietly refined. I love the grey stonewalls and understated, colonial-style homes. 

Can you describe your Washington home.
A simple 100-year-old colonial “L” shaped farmhouse with an attached barn sitting in a small, rural, historic district. Someone recently described our home as “a warm embrace”. Hopefully that warmth comes from making people feel at home when they visit. 

You were with Banana Republic for five years. What did you love most about being the creative director?
Over the years, I have been truly lucky to work with some of the most talented people in the industry from around the globe. Setting up a store, styling a photo shoot, or working with a seamstress, the multi-faceted approach to a design vision is hard work but very satisfying. 

What was your very first job?
Working one summer for a fabulous woman called Lady Clare Rendelsham the ex-Vogue editor, who owned the Saint Laurent Rive Gauche boutiques in central London. I ended up running a small tailor shop in the basement—after the Italian tailor abruptly left one morning screaming Italian profanities—because I was the only person who knew how to work a sewing machine. 

What’s the best advice you ever got in life? 
Give don’t take. 

How did Grey New York Grey New England come about?
I wanted to get back to working with my spouse, Paolo Secchia, whose expertise is accessories. I also wanted to get back into the atelier with the high-end artisanal process of making beautiful pieces that last beyond trends and seasons. 

What’s next? 
Focus on growing our business for Grey New York Grey New England. I’ve been very open minded about other projects, but the right opportunity would have to be extremely appealing to lure me away.

 

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November 2018

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293 Main Street
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Cost: free

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Sponsor: Walk Unafraid
Telephone: 413 717 0031
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Join Art Rodia, an instructor with over 30 years of yoga teaching experience, as he guides this gentle yoga class. Created for people over fifty and beginners who need a gentle and accessible...

Cost: 10 per class

Where:
New Morning Market
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Sponsor: New Morning Market
Telephone: 203-263-4868
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Byrde + the b is pleased to announce an exhibit of Walter Fields new  artwork opening on Friday November 2 from 5-7:00pm at Byrde + the b, 10 Titus Rd, Washington Depot, CT 06794.  The...

Cost: Free

Where:
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Sponsor: Byrde + the b
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Sponsor: New Morning Market
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Cost: Free

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Sponsor: Byrde + the b
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Byrde + the b is pleased to announce an exhibit of Walter Fields new  artwork opening on Friday November 2 from 5-7:00pm at Byrde + the b, 10 Titus Rd, Washington Depot, CT 06794.  The...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
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Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255-6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
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More information

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Cost: free

Where:
Fuel Bistro
293 Main Street
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View map »


Sponsor: Walk Unafraid
Telephone: 413 717 0031
Contact Name: Gabrielle Senza
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Sponsor: Brandywine Living at Litchfield
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Contact Name: Amber Chapman
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Cost: free

Where:
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Great Barrington, MA  01230
View map »


Sponsor: Walk Unafraid
Telephone: 413 717 0031
Contact Name: Gabrielle Senza
Website »

More information

Brandywine Living at Litchfield's 6th Annual Ladies Night Out Charity Shopping Event.  Thursday, November 15, 2018, from 5 pm to 7 pm. Join us for food, signature drinks, fun and...

Cost: Free

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19 Constitution Way
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Sponsor: Brandywine Living at Litchfield
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Cost: Free

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View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255-6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
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Sponsor: Hunt Hill Farm
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Cost: Free - registration requested

Where:
New Morning Market
129 Main St North
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Telephone: 203-263-4868
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Cost: Ages 3 to 64, $10; Seniors, $5; kids under 3, free.

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Byrde + the b is pleased to announce an exhibit of Walter Fields new  artwork opening on Friday November 2 from 5-7:00pm at Byrde + the b, 10 Titus Rd, Washington Depot, CT 06794.  The...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255-6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

More information

KMR Arts presents Mark Seliger: Platinum Prints. The exhibition opens on Saturday, October 6, 2018 from 3-6 pm with a reception and book signing of the monograph, MARK SELIGER PHOTOGRAPHS, with the...

Cost: no charge

Where:
KMR Arts
2 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: KMR Arts
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Contact Name: Kathy McCarver Root
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Cost: Ages 3 to 64, $10; Seniors, $5; kids under 3, free.

Where:
Danbury Sports Dome
25 Shelter Rock Ln
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View map »


Sponsor: Ann's Place
Telephone: 203-790-6568
Contact Name: Michelle Frosch
Website »

More information

Byrde + the b is pleased to announce an exhibit of Walter Fields new  artwork opening on Friday November 2 from 5-7:00pm at Byrde + the b, 10 Titus Rd, Washington Depot, CT 06794.  The...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255-6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

More information

KMR Arts presents Mark Seliger: Platinum Prints. The exhibition opens on Saturday, October 6, 2018 from 3-6 pm with a reception and book signing of the monograph, MARK SELIGER PHOTOGRAPHS, with the...

Cost: no charge

Where:
KMR Arts
2 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: KMR Arts
Telephone: (860)868-7533
Contact Name: Kathy McCarver Root
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
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View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
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Cost: $150

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Sponsor: St Joseph High School
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