Hello my name is Paul Smith is one design exhibition you must see.
Inspiring, funny, charming. It’s easy to see how Paul Smith has lasted so long in an industry that’s constantly changing. From his first TINY store (3m x 3m) in Nottingham to a video installation of Paul talking about his inspirations this exhibition is a must for any Paul Smith fan, or anyone interested in fashion.
Talking us through the journey of his career we start with a replica first store and then progress onto a model of the Paris hotel room where he showed his first collection, just 6 pieces strong. His first office is eclectic heaven and is filled with things that inspired him from all over the world, including a pink hoover, Japanese toys, eyeballs, plastic food from Japan & the shirt it inspired and vintage lunchboxes (a man after my own heart).
Paul has a joy and a lightness about him when discussing his work, it’s obvious he is still very passionate about the day to day workings of the brand, he took us through some of his favourite Paul Smith stores around the world, each individual & eccentric, my favourites being a tie between the barbie pink store on Melrose Ave or the store in Tokyo that has its own traditional Japanese garden. You also get to see a replica of the current design office in London which just made me miss working in design & buying if I’m perfectly honest! The office has patterns hanging from the ceiling as well as numerous screen printed & digitally printed fabrics, just as any design office has BUT the table is strewn with bits of cardboard covered in yarns, Paul explained that this is how they create stripe patterns, they wrap different coloured yarns around cardboard to see how the colours reflect against each other before scanning it into the computer. I love that things are still hand done in such a digital age.
Talking of hand done, for years Paul has received random gifts that arrive at the office covered in stamps, they range from a surfboard to a kids tricycle, the person (I like to believe it’s just one die-hard fan although items have been posted from the UK, USA and Asia) has never come forward to say who they are or asked for any recognition. I love that it’s a part of the exhibition and some of the gifts have even been used as part of storefronts around the world.
I don’t want to give too much away about the exhibition because I really believe it has something for everyone, an insight into the mind of a British fashion icon. The highlight for me was always going to be the clothes, there are hand-picked pieces from vintage Paul Smith all the way through to the latest collection to be shown on the catwalk. There’s also a suit worn by his good friend David Bowie in there. I can tell you the urge to run in and try everything on was strong.