I have met him several times but I remember the first time that I waited at his offices in Covent Garden. His office is much more than an office, it’s his playroom, his factory of ideas, cluttered with objects that he collected in streets markets, art exhibitions or just stuff that fans and happy customers sent from all over the world. Everything is pretty alike ranging from clay rabbits to toys, to plastic sushi. His walls are decorated with a variety of sentimental memorabilia. From t-shirts of grown up kids (with thank you letters attached) to chewed shoes sent from a sad customer whose most precious pair were half eaten from his dog, everything carefully framed as a testimony of a life experience. I can see that he likes that, that his clothes become the tools of this movie called life.
Over the last forty years, Paul Smith (paulsmith.co.uk) has been referred to as the original British brand in the fashion arena. The man who defined his own style as classic with a twist by injecting a bit of fun, did this by using different coloured buttonholes on a classic blazer, paired with bright shoes and a printed shirt. Paul Smith has had his own characteristic path and his designs seem to get more eccentric as he gets older. But his eccentricity is a whisper; a contrast to many of his peers who sent a much louder message on the runway. His looks are uncomplicated and honest; he has never pretended to sell fashion, he wants to be relevant.
Mr Smith’s message is that fashion is a business where you have to be 100% involved and not lose touch with reality. If you are not totally committed, you will fail. If you do it- do it properly. I can see that his success is the result of a good balance of ideas and commercial sense. This attitude for business, his respect for British craftsmanship and his attention to detail has set him apart from the rest, producing high quality and immaculate finished garments. At the end of the day, this is an English man who has inherited the British common sense.
Words by Nino Bauty
Portrait by Kuba Dabrowski
Images © Paul Smith