For our AW16 Seasonal collection, they were drawn to the idea of entertainment, the theatre and things not always being as they seem, so they headed to Benjamin Pollock’s Toyshop and Pollock’s Toy Museum to find inspiration.
With toy theatres, zoetropes, balancing acrobats and ballerinas at every corner, Rosie and Harriet snapped and sketched, and the Play the Part collection was born. You may recognize some of the inspiration that made it into our final jewellery designs!
Visiting Pollock’s was very apt as we have a special history with them - our 44 Monmouth Street store was originally home to Pollock’s in the 1960s! Here's Harriet posing for a snap outside our shop...
We chat to Louise Heard to learn more about Pollock’s...
Tell us a little about the history behind the toyshop and museum… Benjamin Pollock’s Toyshop started in the Victorian era, close to Tatty Devine’s Brick Lane shop in Hoxton. By the time Benjamin Pollock died in 1937 it was a ‘retro’ toy shop even then, yet remained popular with theatre impresarios and actors, as well as artists and writers in love with nostalgia. It was revived after the war but went bankrupt. Marguerite Fawdry was looking for accessories for her son’s toy theatre and was offered all the original copper printing plates and stock, so she bought it all and set up the first Pollock’s Toy Museum at 44 Monmouth Street. As a doll lover herself, the museum’s collection then grew and moved to it’s current home in Fitzrovia which is now run by her grandson Eddy. Marguerite opened a second shop in her beloved Covent Garden, choosing number 44 again, this time in the newly refurbished Market Building. This is now Benjamin Pollock’s Toyshop, a sister shop to the Museum and independently run from 1988.
What was life like at 44 Monmouth Street in the 1960s? Covent Garden was a very different area, the building where we were was the fruit and vegetable market. The pubs opened early in the morning for the market traders and women needed companions to walk around as it could be very rough! It was a bohemian area with lots of craftspeople working in or around the theatres. There were barrow makers, bookbinders, jewellers, saddlers, glass blowers, framers and printers. Pollock’s fitted into this mix, and in the swinging 60s was a popular destination again for artists, designers and musicians (as well as children!) who were interested in Victoriana and folk culture. We have lots of customers, many who work in the theatre, whose first introduction to theatre as a child was visiting Pollock’s to look at the toy theatres - they hold it dear as an influence in their work.
Do you have a favourite piece in the toyshop? The joy of working in your own shop is that you don’t have to choose! But one of my current favourites, a classic that has a long history connected to Pollock’s is a hand carved Dutch Doll. No longer a penny toy these jointed wooden dolls are a classic that you can project any story onto.
What's your favourite design from our new Play the Part collection? I’m going to choose the Marionette Doll Necklace dancing in the Pollock’s Toy Theatre in your Instagram video! Harriet says it was inspired by those 60s and 70s Pelham Puppets. I love the fact your jewellery can be so animated, swishing her acrylic dress around and tapping her wonderful shoes. She is playful and you can be your own puppet mistress!