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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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May 2018

The Washington Art Association & Gallery is pleased to present State of Abstraction, an exhibition of contemporary abstract art by Connecticut artists from May 5 - June 16, 2018. Co-Curated...

Cost: Free and open to the public

Where:
Washington Art Association & Gallery
4 Bryan Hall Plaza
P.O. Box 173
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Washington Art Association & Gallery
Telephone: 860-868-2878
Contact Name: Barbara von Schreiber
Website »

More information

The Litchfield Historical Society is pleased to announce the opening of the new Tapping Reeve Meadow, a public space for learning, relaxation and reflection. Come experience Litchfield’s...

Cost: Free

Where:
Tapping Reeve Meadow
82 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Litchfield Historical Society
Website »

More information

Architect and designer, Osvaldo Borsani (1911-1985), was a giant of Italian modern design and co-founder of Tecno. George Champion Modern Shop will celebrate...

Cost: free

Where:
George Champion Modern Shop
442 Main St. South
Woodbury, CT  06798
View map »


Sponsor: George Champion Modern Shop
Telephone: 203-263-8442
Contact Name: George Champion
Website »

More information

MAY 18 THROUGH 20, 2018 IF YOU’RE INTO BIRDS, THIS IS THE MOST FUN YOU’LL HAVE THIS MAY! For three days, birders of all skill levels will engage in a fun and friendly competition to...

Where:
, CT


Website »

More information

The Loft Gallery will host Washington CT abstract artist, April Crumrine. April’s series of brightly colored paintings will be on view from April 12 through May 20, 2018. An artist’s...

Cost: free

Where:
Loft Gallery at The Smithy
10 Main Street
New Preston, CT  06777
View map »


Sponsor: The Smithy Store
Telephone: (860)868-9003
Contact Name: Susan
Website »

More information

Audition Dates: Sunday, May 20th & Monday, May 21st from 6-9pm Audition Location: Arts Center Theatre (located on level 2) Thomaston Opera House 158 Main St. Thomaston,...

Cost: $0

Where:
Thomaston Opera House
158 Main St
Level 2
Thomaston, CT  06787
View map »


Sponsor: Landmark Community Theatre
Telephone: 860-283-8558
Contact Name: Jeffrey Dunn
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Washington Art Association & Gallery is pleased to present State of Abstraction, an exhibition of contemporary abstract art by Connecticut artists from May 5 - June 16, 2018. Co-Curated...

Cost: Free and open to the public

Where:
Washington Art Association & Gallery
4 Bryan Hall Plaza
P.O. Box 173
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Washington Art Association & Gallery
Telephone: 860-868-2878
Contact Name: Barbara von Schreiber
Website »

More information

Architect and designer, Osvaldo Borsani (1911-1985), was a giant of Italian modern design and co-founder of Tecno. George Champion Modern Shop will celebrate...

Cost: free

Where:
George Champion Modern Shop
442 Main St. South
Woodbury, CT  06798
View map »


Sponsor: George Champion Modern Shop
Telephone: 203-263-8442
Contact Name: George Champion
Website »

More information

Audition Dates: Sunday, May 20th & Monday, May 21st from 6-9pm Audition Location: Arts Center Theatre (located on level 2) Thomaston Opera House 158 Main St. Thomaston,...

Cost: $0

Where:
Thomaston Opera House
158 Main St
Level 2
Thomaston, CT  06787
View map »


Sponsor: Landmark Community Theatre
Telephone: 860-283-8558
Contact Name: Jeffrey Dunn
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Washington Art Association & Gallery is pleased to present State of Abstraction, an exhibition of contemporary abstract art by Connecticut artists from May 5 - June 16, 2018. Co-Curated...

Cost: Free and open to the public

Where:
Washington Art Association & Gallery
4 Bryan Hall Plaza
P.O. Box 173
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Washington Art Association & Gallery
Telephone: 860-868-2878
Contact Name: Barbara von Schreiber
Website »

More information

Architect and designer, Osvaldo Borsani (1911-1985), was a giant of Italian modern design and co-founder of Tecno. George Champion Modern Shop will celebrate...

Cost: free

Where:
George Champion Modern Shop
442 Main St. South
Woodbury, CT  06798
View map »


Sponsor: George Champion Modern Shop
Telephone: 203-263-8442
Contact Name: George Champion
Website »

More information

Coinciding with Memorial Day the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame will deliver a multimedia presentation entitled Women & War celebrating some of the state’s notable...

Cost: Free and open to the public

Where:
Gunn Memorial Library
5 Wykeham Road
Washington, CT  06793
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Washington Art Association & Gallery is pleased to present State of Abstraction, an exhibition of contemporary abstract art by Connecticut artists from May 5 - June 16, 2018. Co-Curated...

Cost: Free and open to the public

Where:
Washington Art Association & Gallery
4 Bryan Hall Plaza
P.O. Box 173
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Washington Art Association & Gallery
Telephone: 860-868-2878
Contact Name: Barbara von Schreiber
Website »

More information

Architect and designer, Osvaldo Borsani (1911-1985), was a giant of Italian modern design and co-founder of Tecno. George Champion Modern Shop will celebrate...

Cost: free

Where:
George Champion Modern Shop
442 Main St. South
Woodbury, CT  06798
View map »


Sponsor: George Champion Modern Shop
Telephone: 203-263-8442
Contact Name: George Champion
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Washington Art Association & Gallery is pleased to present State of Abstraction, an exhibition of contemporary abstract art by Connecticut artists from May 5 - June 16, 2018. Co-Curated...

Cost: Free and open to the public

Where:
Washington Art Association & Gallery
4 Bryan Hall Plaza
P.O. Box 173
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Washington Art Association & Gallery
Telephone: 860-868-2878
Contact Name: Barbara von Schreiber
Website »

More information

KMR Arts is proud to present MAYDAY, an exhibition of new photographs by Barbara Vaughn. Please join us for the opening reception with the artist on June 2, 2018, from 3-7pm, 2 Titus Road,...

Cost: FREE

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


Website »

More information

Architect and designer, Osvaldo Borsani (1911-1985), was a giant of Italian modern design and co-founder of Tecno. George Champion Modern Shop will celebrate...

Cost: free

Where:
George Champion Modern Shop
442 Main St. South
Woodbury, CT  06798
View map »


Sponsor: George Champion Modern Shop
Telephone: 203-263-8442
Contact Name: George Champion
Website »

More information

Peter and the Starcatcher is a play based on the 2004 novel Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, adapted for the stage by Rick Elice. The play provides a backstory for the...

Cost: $20 admission; $15 for seniors; $10 for kids

Where:
Western CT State University
Visual Performing Arts Center
Danbury, CT  06811
View map »


Website »

More information

EVERY THURSDAY | 7:30 PM - 10:00 pm Music | Spoken Word | Comedy | More Hosted by Don Lowe Hunt Hill Farm is excited to announce OpenMic night every Thursday night.  Please stop by to...

Cost: donation

Where:
Hunt Hill Farm
44 Upland Road
New Milford, CT  06776
View map »


Sponsor: Hunt Hill Farm
Telephone: 860.355.0300
Contact Name: John C. Maxwell III
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Washington Art Association & Gallery is pleased to present State of Abstraction, an exhibition of contemporary abstract art by Connecticut artists from May 5 - June 16, 2018. Co-Curated...

Cost: Free and open to the public

Where:
Washington Art Association & Gallery
4 Bryan Hall Plaza
P.O. Box 173
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Washington Art Association & Gallery
Telephone: 860-868-2878
Contact Name: Barbara von Schreiber
Website »

More information

KMR Arts is proud to present MAYDAY, an exhibition of new photographs by Barbara Vaughn. Please join us for the opening reception with the artist on June 2, 2018, from 3-7pm, 2 Titus Road,...

Cost: FREE

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


Website »

More information

Architect and designer, Osvaldo Borsani (1911-1985), was a giant of Italian modern design and co-founder of Tecno. George Champion Modern Shop will celebrate...

Cost: free

Where:
George Champion Modern Shop
442 Main St. South
Woodbury, CT  06798
View map »


Sponsor: George Champion Modern Shop
Telephone: 203-263-8442
Contact Name: George Champion
Website »

More information

Peter and the Starcatcher is a play based on the 2004 novel Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, adapted for the stage by Rick Elice. The play provides a backstory for the...

Cost: $20 admission; $15 for seniors; $10 for kids

Where:
Western CT State University
Visual Performing Arts Center
Danbury, CT  06811
View map »


Website »

More information

Are you just dying to get some dirt under your fingernails this season? Come to Back 40 Farm for Friday Field Days and help us out with weeding, transplanting, hoeing, harvesting, and more! Who:...

Where:
Back 40 Farm
Washington Depot, CT


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Join the Litchfield Historical Society for a Saturday walking tour on May 26 at 10 a.m. Explore some of the sites related to the famous Beecher family, residents of Litchfield from 1810 to 1826....

Cost: Free for members; $5 non-members

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Litchfield Historical Society
Website »

More information

The Washington Art Association & Gallery is pleased to present State of Abstraction, an exhibition of contemporary abstract art by Connecticut artists from May 5 - June 16, 2018. Co-Curated...

Cost: Free and open to the public

Where:
Washington Art Association & Gallery
4 Bryan Hall Plaza
P.O. Box 173
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Washington Art Association & Gallery
Telephone: 860-868-2878
Contact Name: Barbara von Schreiber
Website »

More information

KMR Arts is proud to present MAYDAY, an exhibition of new photographs by Barbara Vaughn. Please join us for the opening reception with the artist on June 2, 2018, from 3-7pm, 2 Titus Road,...

Cost: FREE

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


Website »

More information

The first Litchfield County Zine Fest (and the first zine fest in Connecticut) is coming to Kent, CT! The fest is a free, all-ages, public arts event where self-publishers of all stripes will...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kent Community House
93 North Main Street
Kent, CT  06757
View map »


Website »

More information

Architect and designer, Osvaldo Borsani (1911-1985), was a giant of Italian modern design and co-founder of Tecno. George Champion Modern Shop will celebrate...

Cost: free

Where:
George Champion Modern Shop
442 Main St. South
Woodbury, CT  06798
View map »


Sponsor: George Champion Modern Shop
Telephone: 203-263-8442
Contact Name: George Champion
Website »

More information

Peter and the Starcatcher is a play based on the 2004 novel Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, adapted for the stage by Rick Elice. The play provides a backstory for the...

Cost: $20 admission; $15 for seniors; $10 for kids

Where:
Western CT State University
Visual Performing Arts Center
Danbury, CT  06811
View map »


Website »

More information

The Loft Gallery will open an exhibit of fine paintings by Carol Brightman Johnson. Ms. Johnson's show opens on Saturday, May 26 and run through Sunday, July 8, and will feature...

Cost: free

Where:
Loft Gallery at The Smithy
10 Main Street
New Preston, CT  06777
View map »


Sponsor: Loft Gallery at The Smithy
Telephone: (860)868-9003
Contact Name: Susan
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

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