Sandra Hill, creative director of womenswear at Paul Smith and one of the premium lifestyle brand’s driving forces, has left after 16 years at the helm, it has emerged.
Hill, who joined Paul Smith in 1995 from luxury brand Alberta Ferretti, is understood to have resigned two months ago but is still on gardening leave. It is unclear whether she has a job to go to.
According to a source close to the brand, Hill was designer Paul Smith’s second in command and “right-hand woman” for his womenswear collections, which he shows at London Fashion Week.
It is thought that she was entrusted with translating Smith’s vision across different categories, and played a leading role in diversifying the label from a purely menswear offer into a fully fledged lifestyle brand, also playing a key role in accessories design.
“She was well liked and had a loyal team,” the source said. “Her replacement would need to know how to retain Paul Smith’s Britishness and sense of humour, but also have experience in international markets as this is a big focus for the brand.”
The Paul Smith business did not return Drapers’ calls, but calls for Hill to its London head office in Kean Street, Covent Garden, were being diverted to womenswear designer Sally Graveling as Drapers went to press.
Other sources close to the business said the departure was being deliberately kept “hush-hush”.
Last month, Drapers revealed Paul Smith would scale back the use of its iconic multi-stripe branding across clothing and footwear from autumn 11. The stripes will feature more commonly as trims or with an antiqued finish instead of in full technicolour across an entire item.
Paul Smith has 70 UK stockists and 400 worldwide.