September 2021

The Early Years at Yardley

Autobiographical Notes

When Katharine met Reco Capey at the Royal College of Art, he was already Art Director at Yardley, having been appointed in 1928 (he remained such until 1959). Reco was responsible for the design of the cosmetics packaging and advertising, and for store fittings and fixtures. He had designed decorative elements of the the new Yardley building, Yardley House, at 33 New Bond St., London in 1931.

Sometime in the early ‘30’s, Katharine joined the Yardley staff as Capey’s assistant. She and Reco were married in 1935, when he was 40 and Katharine was 27.

Katharine and Reco Capey on their wedding day, 1935

Katharine and Reco Capey on their wedding day, 1935

A few of Katharine’s diary entries for January 1936 give a glimpse into the kind of work she was doing at Yardley:

“At Yardley I designed the April Violets Bath dusting powder and large size talc tin - the designs being based on the old powder box and small talc.”
3rd January 1936

Reco's original 1929 April Violets design.

Reco's original 1929 April Violets design.

Reco's original 1929 April Violets design. Reco's original 1929 April Violets design. Reco's original 1929 April Violets design.

Katharine's later re-workings of the April Violets design.

“At Yardley I did 2 freesia talc tins suggested for stands for 3 large and 3 small varied talcs and covered beauty box with pink galantine (sic) paper.”
7th January 1936

“I am starting the Lavender Brillantine finished drawing and we had Y's OK on Freesia Talc and April Violets and stands to hold 3 large varied and 3 small.”
10th January 1936

“At Y I did finished drawing of Small A Violets talc - roughed out and traced gothic lettering for Lavender label - traced two of the talc stand in Bakelite... We also decided on In the Year of the Coronation Bond St. a perfume by Yardley  - My suggestion - as the design is so apt.”
22nd January 1936    

Katharine's Bond Street box design with Reco Capey designed perfume bottles.

Katharine's Bond Street box design with Reco Capey designed perfume bottles.