Classics with a Twist.
PAUL SMITH 'Vêtement Pour Homme'
Paul’s first shop in Nottingham measured just 3 x 3 metres. It was called ‘Paul Smith Vetements Pour l’Homme’ and it opened in 1970 on 6 Byard Lane, Nottingham.
It was one small room without any windows but Paul called it a shop. His Afghan hound Homer was the first shop manager.
THE CHARM SHIRT
The charm shirt became an early signature for Paul Smith. The origin of the charm shirt occurred when Paul was waiting for Pauline, his wife, on Via Montenapoleone, Milan. He bought some charms from a stall that were meant for charm bracelets but he had the idea to stitch them onto the shirt placket.
The charm shirt was reintroduced into the Paul Smith collection for Autumn / Winter 2016. The charms – including peace symbols and rainbows – tie into Paul’s overall message of peace and positivity
EVERY PAUL SMITH SHOP IS DIFFERENT
Yes, there are recurring themes, like the ever-present art wall that mirrors the picture-covered walls in Paul’s office, but Paul has always believed that each shop should reflect the character of its area.
Paul’s idea filters down through the shop design, stock and the merchandising. Walking into each Paul Smith shop is a unique experience.
As a result, the London flagship shop No. 9 Albemarle Street is very different to the modernist pink box of Paul Smith LA, or the newly refurbished Paris shop on Rue Saint-Honoré.
THE SPAGHETTI SHIRT
Paul was one of the first designers to use the photographic print on fabric in the 1980s. The technique reflected Paul’s keen interest in photography. Early prints from the 1980s used Paul’s own photographs.
This has continued to this day, drawing from Paul’s personal Instagram account @paul_smith. Early photo prints included apples, acorns, flowers, piles of wood, an ivy covered wall and clouds.
The plate of spaghetti came from Japan where, on one of his many trips, Paul discovered a shop that sold wax food designed for restaurant window displays.
THE ARTIST STRIPE
Stripes have been central to Paul Smith’s design work since the early days of the company. The new Artist Stripe, introduced in Autumn / Winter 2016, is the latest incarnation of the Paul Smith stripe.
The Artist Stripe was inspired by the colour combinations of expressionist art. The Artist Stripe is available as a bold print or as a subtle detail found on shirt cuffs, bag linings or the internal trim of jackets.
WHAT WOMEN WANT
After discovering that 15% of all his clothes were bought by women who appreciated their cut and quality, Paul decided he should expand his range.
However, Paul insistence that 'things be done right' combined with a natural caution meant that the brand would not rush into this new opportunity.
It wouldn't be until 1993, when Paul took over the traditional, but bankrupt company R. Newbold (established in 1885) and incorporated many of their famous cuts into his new collection that women's wear would be launched.
COLLABORATIONS: LEICA CAMERA
Collaboration has always been part of the Paul Smith business, allowing Paul to demonstrate the broad range of his interests and apply his creativity to other areas.
Other collaborations have included projects with Land Rover, John Lobb, Maharam, Anglepoise, Caran d’Ache, Mercian cycles, the Giro d’Italia and Penguin Classics.
Photography has always been central to Paul’s work, so this collaboration tapped into a deep personal interest. A combination of playful British design and precision German engineering.
The design featured a dark green body with bold lime and orange accents, plus Paul’s hand-drawn doodle on the flash capModel was the Leica X2 digital camera, which retailed at £1,750 Launched in September, 2012.
A SUIT TO TRAVEL IN
A Suit To Travel in embodies Paul’s ideas about tailoring, namely that it should look smart while feeling effortless to wear. As a result, A Suit To Travel in was create with movement and comfort in mind.
A Suit To Travel In was launched by British Olympic gymnast Max Whitlock in August 2015, who demonstrated the flexibility and crease resistance of the suit by performing a series of impressive gymnastic moves while wearing A Suit To Travel In.
The suit is created from high-twist, 100% wool yarn with natural stretch and crease recovery. It’s the fantastic life and vitality of this fabric that gives the suit its unique qualities. The wool fabric of the suit is naturally breathable and wicking, helping the wearer stay cool and comfortable while also looking effortlessly sharp
Paul attributes a large part of his success to his magpie mind; he’s fascinated by design, he's a scholar of fashion and is a compulsive collector of ‘stuff’.
Paul is an avid user of Instagram. Paul has always been a visual thinker. He quickly took to Instagram and posted his first image in 2012. Since then Paul’s personal account has gathered nearly 300,000 followers.
Paul's office contains a vast collection of curiosities and mementoes. Paul is constantly being sent interesting things from his friends and fans. And, Paul is always adding to his collection as he travels around the world.
This exhibit was created by the British Fashion Council in collaboration with Paul Smith. All rights belong to Paul Smith unless otherwise specifically stated. All models and photographers have been credited where known.