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Andrea & Christie

Who I am and who I’ll be
We sat down with Andrea Lenczner and Christie Smythe, the duo behind Smythe, the contemporary fashion brand known for their perfectly fitted blazers.


19/99        Take us through your daily beauty routines - morning & night.

AL        Mine is more involved. In the morning I just do a single wash, with an oil cleanser. I am a muslin facecloth person; every time I wash my face. That is my little exfoliation everyday. If I was naughty and didn’t take my face off the night before then I get into more cleansing. I’m a Tata Harper lover - there is some mist she says you have to put on so that your serum will adhere, so I do the mist. Then I do her serum that has got hyaluronic acid and a bunch of other things in it. Then I do a Vitamin D serum for sun and I do another serum that is like more sunblock. My face is super dry, so if I don’t put on a moisturizer that is water based it feels uncomfortable for me. Right now I am using Weleda Skin Food. And I put a pump of my foundation into it and then I mix it and then I spackle it all over. And then a little eyeliner, and maybe some lipstick and then I go. That is my morning routine.

CS        My favorite thing I own are my muslin face clothes - they are Liz Earle and my sister gets them for me in London, and I have like 30 of them.

AL        Ohh, you fancy.

CS        Well it is the only thing that I do. I wash my face with that in the morning – water and the cloth. At night – water and the cloth. I usually have one serum, I kind of play around with what it is. Once a week I use James Reed’s The Sleep Mask self tanner, you put it on at night and I find it really moisturizing.

In the morning, I do the face cloth, then I put on my tinted moisturizer, which is Laura Mercier in Bisk. I absolutely love it. She recently added more sunscreen to it, and the colour changed a bit, so I am a bit sad. Then I do powdered eyeliner, a lip or no lip, and mascara. And that is it.

19/99        What about at night?

CS        Sorry we forgot – we are really into Gucci Westman’s sticks.

AL        But that is like going out at night, doing your face…

CS        Oh, I use two everyday. I put Lit on first – here, under my eyes & on my cheekbones – and then the blush one and I rub them in together.

AL        We are really into everything from her, but for me it is only if I am going out at night.

CS        Do you put no blush on during the day?

AL        No but I do use Oskia face tanner drops, which are really mild. You mix them into whatever you are putting onto your face. And it doesn’t stain your hands. That is where I get colour in my face from. For sure if I am going out at night and doing my makeup for real – then I get into the blush and highlighter and all that.

CS        I could never not put blush on during the day; I am too sallow.

AL        I put my lipstick on my cheeks. I like it when my lip and cheek are the same…it makes sense & looks good.

19/99        How have your beauty routines changed over the years?

AL        Ohhh eye cream, I forgot eye cream. Definitely don’t miss an eye cream any more.

CS        I don’t do that, just the serum all over the face. I really should be doing that though.

AL        How it changed? I used to fry in the sun. And now I put sunscreen on 365, 24/7s. That is the biggest change.

CS        I just bought that pigment cream, because now I have spots, but I haven’t tried it yet. I have been putting off trying it in case I have a reaction.

AL        That is what changes; you start putting on Retin A, sunscreen and your products might get more fancy - although that doesn’t really change things. 1999: The price point goes up and the quality stays the same?

AL        I have doubts about things, and their prices. But the luxury element of your packaging, or whatever, can encourage you to do it. It is the experience.

19/99        What about your make up routine? Your colour routine, has that changed?

AL        Well when self tanner came out it changed my life, because then I could step away from the sun. I don’t like my winter skin – it is super pale. And not in a pretty way; I think there was beautiful fair skinned people out there, and I’m not one of them. So that was a game changer when that came on the market. And now we’ve got so many good ones; first it was kind of rough; it was orange. Now the colour is better and there is a lot of choice.

CS        I think my biggest game changer was a tinted moisturizer. I was so anti-make up and foundation. A friend encouraged me to try the Laura Mercier one, it is so light and next to nothing, I didn’t realize how much it would help even my skin tone. My skin tone was changing, and it was getting more uneven. So it was a good thing to add to my world at that time.

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19/99       Has change in your beauty routine coincided with a change in fashion aesthetic?

AL       Ummmm, hmmm, like will we play with different colours?

19/99       When you were younger were there things you’d do aesthetically that you wouldn’t do now?

AL       Ohhh our lips were anemic in university.

CS       Oh yess. Before that there was this frosty pink. Every lipstick was a frosted pink. Absolutely terrible - Barbie. And then we moved into the goth lipstick. We would use our MAC brown eyeliner, and put it all over our lips, and then a bit of chap stick over it so it wasn’t really dry.

AL       That was when we went to raves.

CS       That was a long stage in university. I didn’t do a bright lip until old age.

AL       I did nude, nude, nude. I don’t switch my colour up so much

CS       No you are a nude girl. Peachys and nudes

AL       Ohhh- I do lash extensions. That is big for me. I try to do it so it’s not Barbie. I hope I am succeeding at that.

CS        She does it very naturally, and the right length and fullness, doesn’t look like fur coats, or like Betty Boop. I tried it once and it did not suit my face at all, it looked horrible. But it suits you.

AL       So I don't’ really wear mascara, maybe on a formal night. I like not wearing mascara – I had trouble with it. It was all over my face, all over my pillow; I have bad habit of not taking my makeup off properly. It is a horrible thing….

CS        You will go to bed without washing your face…

AL       I know, it is no good.

19/99       Have you ever had trouble with your skin?

AL       Luckily, I have not. Other than normal aging, I have never had serious breakouts or anything.

CS       I haven’t had bad breakouts, but I’ve had bad rosacea, which was manageable.

19/99       Do you use anti-age products? If yes, when did you start?

AL       Yes; when did I start? My god; I tried Retin-A prescription stuff about 10 years ago. But I can’t get passed the horrible scaly part so I don’t use it any more.

CS        It has always been a conversation for us.

AL        All the sunscreen-ing and Vitamin D layering is my effort at the anti-aging. Sunscreen is the most important one.

CS        Do you guys wear sunscreen?

19/99       I go through phases; I was doing it for a while. We were in Japan and I got a really good one, they have really great sunscreens over there. I was using it for a while, and then I listened to a podcast that said sunscreen limits our Vitamin D absorption, and I have low vitamin D so I decided to stop and see how it goes.

Al        I mean you can get vitamin D absorption through your arm, whereas you want to keep your face protected. What I started noticing first in my aging was visible pores. I went from having no visible pores to all of a sudden one day I had all of these visible pores. And that is sun damage. So definitely I am conscious of getting Vitamin D for my health, but I try to get it not from my face or my chest. Those are the two areas that I’ve seen the damage already.

19/99       Working in fashion, do you feel pressure to look a certain way?

AL       Occasionally.

CS        Yes, but not in my everyday life. I think we are pretty comfortable day to day, if we come in and don’t have meetings, and we are just with each other. There is no pressure at all.

AL        If we are doing a Smythe event, we will get our make up done and so I would say yes.

CS       I don’t consider it pressure so much as it is part of our job though. And we enjoy it – we discuss what we are going to do for make up, if we are going to really change our make up- do some big eye shadow, or some crimping….

AL       She is all about hair.

19/99        It is more something you enjoy and is like a costume almost?

AL        Ya, it is fun; it is part of the dressing up.

19/99       Does the term ‘age appropriate’ mean anything to you?

AL       Unfortunately yes; more in dressing. But let’s do the red lip experiment because I wonder if it makes me look older, because that is why I’ve steered away from it.

CS       It is more with exposure…

AL       That’s right, I have it with exposure in clothing.

CS       I wouldn’t say ‘That jean is way too young for you.’ It is more like if your boobs are out – that is not good.

19/99        When did you feel that shift happening in your consciousness?

CS       Parallel to being a mother is definitely an element. For example, at Andrea’s eldest son’s barmitzvah, I wore one of our jumpsuits, and it was waaay too boobie. And I knew it at the event. I felt like it was not appropriate.

AL        For you; but it is personal. That is personal. We would never say she shouldn’t wear that.

CS        Oh no, no, no; I could see somebody in the exact same thing who is my age and think it looks incredible and that she has balls. You know, it is just for myself.

AL       We discuss it; I will ask Christie ‘Is it okay to wear this?’ And she will say it is totally fine, or it is totally not. A lot of us women have that one person who we can trust to be on our team to be honest

19/99       How do you stay relevant in the world fast fashion ad overconsumption that we are currently living in?

AL       We try and block out a lot of what is going on, and stay true to how we started the business. Which is, we are making the stuff that we want, and hopefully enough people agree with us. And we know how to protect the business; I might not want to wear a certain style anymore, but it is still really relevant so we put it into a new fabric, or change something about it. We still like the idea of it, but we might have moved on. You do what is in your instinct and don’t question it too much.  

CS       Blocking out the noise is super important. There is so much choice out there and we are so grateful when people choose us, because they have so much choice. We stay true to what we like and what we want, and block out all the interference. Because if you try to be on trend or target a certain person, that is when the design gets diluted and is not as authentic, to use a really over used word.

AL       And we use good quality. Our mills that we source from provide designer cloth. So that is part of how it becomes something that you cherish in your wardrobe, keep around and bring it out again.

19/99       Have you noticed an evolution of what your responsibility is in putting stuff out there?

AL       It is hard because our business is predicated on consumption. That is what we need to pay everybody, so that is confusing sometimes. How we reconcile that with the fact that there is mass over consumption is making a product that will stand the test of time both stylistically and quality wise; and hopefully reduce the need to buy more. But it is something that is conflicting - we can’t get around that. On the other side of things we employee people, we give them wages, as long as there is demand for the product there are things going back into the economy. We try to make little changes like our packaging; making sure it is recyclable. How can the industry get rid of plastic bags; the goods are shipped from the contractor to the warehouse with plastic bags. What can we do to change that for everybody? Why do we need tissue papers in the store? Can we all not live without wrapping the garment you bought in tissue paper? There are lots of things to think about. We have started to use sustainable fabrics. A lot of the mills have started to make beautiful fabrics out of recycled materials.

CS        It is really exciting for us; the quality is there and it is really a growing area. So that is a big change over the last year to 6 months. And we didn’t pick that fabric because it was sustainable, we picked it because it was beautiful and then we were so happy that it is also sustainable. That is a huge change.

AL       And it takes colour so well, it is exciting cause now we can play with that in the same fabric; it is seasonless. When eco friendly becomes profitable for people it’s a game changer. Our customer buys that because they like it and then they find out they can feel good about it, and the mills get more orders and they develop more fabrics that way; it is a cycle.

19/99        If you could ask the older generation one questions?

CS       This is negative, but I think there is learning in it. I do like to know what people regret. When they have gone through life, and a lot of life I like to know, in that reflective stage, what the regret is. Because I think that you can learn from that, ahead of time.

19/99       If you could share advice with your younger self, what would it be?

AL       I think we said this the other day - I would take more risk.

CS        Oh in business…

AL        In life..

CS        Oh in the whole life?!

AL        Yes! I wish I’d travelled more before I had kids. I was always nervous to strike out on my own.

CS        That is so interesting; I feel like you went to a lot of amazing places. It is not like you didn’t travel. And you put yourself back in school with no one that you knew…

Al       Before I had kids?

CS       Yes….

AL       Understand that the world is small. That we are all the same, that it is not so intimidating. More business risk. More lovers, before I got married. I wish more women would say that. Because once you commit that is it…well ideally that is it. If I could do that over again, I might have been a little bit more risky.

CS       Right….

AL       Yep.

CS       What would you tell my young self?

AL       Same! You had two boyfriends

19/99       What makes you feel beautiful?

CS       My kids, my daughter. I have one daughter - she does. She tells me all the time.

AL       That is so nice

CS       Whenever she does I am so surprised…I’m like ‘What are you talking about?!”

AL        That is so nice…

CS        I know, I know, it is really nice. She is 13. The other night laying in bed she was like ‘your so beautiful mummy’. I could cry, it couldn’t be nicer.

AL       That is so nice. My kids are like ‘what are those big black dots on your nose?!’ It is nice when I get an unsolicited compliment from my husband, which are rare and therefore they are more meaningful. I mean when my face isn’t puffy I am feeling pretty okay. But beautiful? Those moments are rare. I don’t look at myself and think ‘You are beautiful’

CS       No.

19/99       So is that something you don’t really think about?

AL       No. I mean, listen, when I leave the house I generally think I look nice.

CS        Like we are doing our best.

AL       But beautiful? I don’t think I indulge myself that way. I don’t think I look beautiful. Know what I mean? And I have a healthy self-confidence, but I just don’t…

CS        I just don’t think that is a part of my inner dialogue. But I think you strive to look beautiful….but I don’t think you congratulate yourself.

19/99       Is there anything that scares you about aging?

AL       Yes and no. Yes, aging is tough, and it is the best alternative at the same time. You are supposed to age, or you’d be dead.

CS       I’m not really scared of it…expect for death. I think the only thing is I really don’t want to go anywhere.

19/99       Do you think there is a point where we stop growing and learning?

CS       No, as long as you are open to it.

AL       No.

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Who I am and who I’ll be