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With 50 years in the business, few designers have had such an impressive span at the top, like the tailoring maverick that is, Paul Smith. The legendary British designer discusses his creative influences, pushing forward in the face of a pandemic and shares some pearls of wisdom from his impressive career…
Only a small amount of designers have had the privilege of defining the aesthetic of a place quite as authentically and wholeheartedly as Paul Smith has. A pillar in London style after decades spent dressing it’s city slickers, all the while revolutionising what it means to dress quintessentially British into something far more vibrant. “When I first started out I had no experience of creating clothes but I knew it was important to make them unique, to set myself apart from the rest. That’s why I started making things in different colours and using bright linings on the inside of jackets and so on. Back then it was something I just did and felt was the right thing to do and today it is pretty much still our aesthetic.” Paul begins. 50 years on and this colourful approach to menswear is still as fresh as it was then.
When I first started out I had no experience of creating clothes but I knew it was important to make them unique, to set myself apart from the rest.Paul Smith
Devoted to tailoring and little hints of the unexpected, it's little wonder when asked what one item embodies his peak signature style, Paul answers “A classic navy suit with a bright lining on the inside of the jacket.” Adding with a smile, “although a colourful stripey sock could work too.” For his anniversary collection, he is sticking to this tried and tested formula, delving into his archive of signature prints. One such Paul explains has an unexpected oriental influence, “the spaghetti print was found during my travels to Japan over twenty years ago. Anyone who has visited Japan will know that many of the restaurants have these fantastic wax or plastic plates with dishes they served on display. I was so fascinated by them, that I had to find out where they came from. I bought some to bring back to the UK and from a photo of the plastic spaghetti plate a print was created.”
A known jet-setter, top of his to-visit-list, post COVID-19 is Helsinki, noting “I have never had the chance to visit, it has a great reputation for interesting creativity.” Other influences include Mondrian and “the bright colours used by the Mexican architect Luis Barragán.”
As the conversation turns to the much-discussed “new normal” Paul's wisdom is evident adding, “The fashion industry is constantly changing in so many ways, that’s what makes it exciting. The pace of the industry has been so fast for the last couple of years and is now forced to slow down, which I think was needed. Everyone is having to adapt in this current climate which means the way people dress will change too.” Specifically, Paul predicts “we will see more relaxed tailoring and items that can be worn as individual items rather than full suits, for example, pairing your blazer with jeans or the trousers with a nice polo or knit.”
The fashion industry is constantly changing in so many ways, that’s what makes it exciting.Paul Smith
While remembering his last trip to Brown Thomas Paul says “It’s a very special and rare place. It has such a familiar and intimate feeling for somewhere that’s so vast. I always enjoy visiting.” Adding to his admiration for Dubliners “who are famously and very consistently in my experience, really very friendly!” The feeling is mutual Paul!
Discover the Paul Smith 50th anniversary collection coming soon to Brown Thomas Dublin and brownthomas.com.