One thing (for Christopher Nolan’s BFI award event) from Simon Carter

I’m buying one thing from every shop on the Crystal Palace Triangle. This is the sixth thing.

Visionary, award-winning director Christopher Nolan is being given a Fellowship Award by the BFI. I work for the BFI. I am going to the event. The dress code is “cocktail”. HELP! 

Recap: I’m buying one thing from every shop on the Crystal Palace Triangle and writing about them all here for the joy of it. We’ve all enjoyed reading things one, two, three, four and five haven’t we? I SAID HAVEN’T WE? And now we’re all excited for thing six…

The shop

Simon Carter.

This unique, British indie menswear and accessory brand has a handful of branches in London – so we’re lucky to have one in Crystal Palace.

I like to think of the eponymous Simon Carter as being like J. Peterman in Seinfeld, scouring the world in search of rare fabrics and design inspiration. Simon has a store in Noida, India and there’s an Indian influence in his collections. Even the product descriptions on the website have a touch of the Peterman Catalogue travelling raconteur about them. Fun! 

Screenshots from Seinfeld. J Peterman is saying to Elaine: "It was 1978. I was travelling the Yangtze... in search of a Mongolian horsehair vest"

The people

This isn’t Simon Carter. This is John. 

A well-dressed man in glasses and a scarf, with velvet jacket and jeans with turn-ups, standing in a designer menswear shop. A large black and white mural shows an image of the Great Exhibition in Crystal Palace.

John’s been managing the Crystal Palace shop since around 2019, and loves it. He says Simon is great to work for, and the triangle’s customer base is a perfect fit for the brand and its independent spirit.

John’s a total gent, clearly knows how to dress, and is the very man I came to see to help with my cocktail attire panic. 

The many things

The stars of Simon Carter’s ever-changing collection are always his range of eccentric patterned shirts and beautiful jackets in various fabrics. And maybe also the cufflinks, which is where it all started.

The shirts tend to be a bit out there for my own style, but look great on a man who can pull them off. Years ago I noticed Paul Merton can often be seen in Simon Carter shirts on HIGNFY, and I read here that Richard Ayode and Gary Oldman are fans too. It’s that kind of look.

I’ve previously bought a few pieces here both loud and quiet, including a dark velvet jacket this time last year with a subtle pattern that gives varying shades of purple-maroon in different lights. This is the jacket I want to wear to the Nolan event, but I’d been struggling for a shirt to pair with it.

On this visit, I was tempted by all sorts. The plain teal velvet jacket is to die for. The colourful belts. A rather nice overcoat in the window.

The one thing two things

John was brilliant and generous with the advice.

Nudging me somewhat out of my comfort zone, we agreed on this black shirt with a photographic print of office windows.

I’d actually clocked this one already on the website and it spoke to me at the time as being a) somewhat cinematic (with Rear Window connotations) and b) about as quirky as I am willing to go! 

Now I don’t know what happened next. At some prior point Simon and John must have incepted me, because out of nowhere I decided I also needed to buy that gorgeous herringbone overcoat. It’s pretty special, fills a gap I had in my wardrobe for smarter outerwear, I’m chuffed to bits with it.

The thing in its things in their new home

Come back after Wednesday for a pic of me heading out for the BFI Chair’s dinner decked in Simon Carter clobber. 

Update: as promised, said pic…

Collage of 3 mirror selfies of the author wearing the clothes mentioned in the with cost, one without

It’s the last such event to be hosted by outgoing BFI chair and Vue cinemas founder-CEO Tim Richards. Pretty fitting for him to be giving his final BFI Fellowship award to Chris Nolan – a man who has done so much for celluloid and the big screen, with an incredible draw at the box office.

I’m excited for the event. Memento in particular means a lot to me (cos of the aphantasia and SDAM thing) and I love pretty much all Nolan’s remarkable body of work. I’m taking my talisman – literally I have one of these and I am taking it. Better safe than sorry. 

Animated gif of a spinning top talisman, from the film Inception

Simon Carter is online and at 71 Westow St, London SE19 3RW in Crystal Palace, and numerous locations including Mayfair.

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