Graham Smith was born in Bexley, Kent, England in 1938. He attended Bromley College of Art from 1956 to 1957 and the following year started studies at London's Royal College of Art. He graduated in early 1959.
He then spent a year in the millinery salon of Lanvin-Castillo in Paris, returning to London in 1960 to work for Michael. In 1967, he set up his own hat salon in London. He has made hats for the collections of Jean Muir, Zandra Rhodes and other designers.
He joined Kangol Hat Company in 1981 and successfully blended the company's traditional berets and caps with his own creations.
In the 80's Smith also created traditional styles for such celebrities as Princess Diana and the Duchess of York, and he believes that British royalty has saved the British millinery industry by wearing hats again. Smith is a master of balance and proportion.
In 1998, Smith became Millinery Consultant to British Home Stores chain of shops in the U.K. producing an exclusive range of hats in selected stores.
Smith has been appointed millinery consultant for Bhs, a British chain store group. His work has been featured in numerous leading publications as well as being seen on major television shows. His model lines are available to a wide range of notable private customers from his Crawford Street, London, premises.
Graham Smith one examines his hats and finds outstanding craftmanship. These featherweight pieces appear untouched by human hand; no irregularities mar the sheen of the fine straw crowns, and snow-white felts remain pristine after the rigorous hand-blocking which sets them irrevocably into shape. Invisibly-stitched brims and seemingly effortless draping belie hours of painstaking handwork for which there is no substitute if one requires the genuine article. Nor does Smith's work exhibit technical mastery alone—to walk into his showroom is to be amazed and amused by the combination of color, texture, and shape, and by the witty inventiveness of the trims. Smith's shows during the decade of his design directorship of Kangol were stunning parades of the milliner's art and a gift to fashion editors, whether the chosen theme followed a traditional floral path, swooped up into outer space or dived to the bed of a tropical ocean. The staid Kangol beret suddenly emerged as a hot fashion item, whether studded, colored or trimmed whimsically with buttons.