October 20, 2008

Sir Paul Smith reflects on life as a fashion designer



Tonight, Sir Paul Smith presented a slide show about his 30 years in fashion at Holt Renfrew Vancouver.

Starting with a 12' x 12' shop in Nottingham, which he rented for 50 pence a week and opened only on Fridays and Saturdays, Smith has built an empire that wholesales to 35 countries and owns 14 shops in England.

Smith's talk combined autobiography, fashion philosophy and retail pointers and really underscored the importance of finding inspiration in art, architecture and travel and appreciating colour found in everyday objects.

Smith draws ideas from Lithuanian churches painted in aquamarine to seed packets (leading to floral patterned shirts) to tomatoes on a vine.

Here are a few of the things he said tonight:
  • On his Spring 1996 cerulean blue suits - "I like to pretend they were Yves Klein blue but the colour really came from a security guard uniform."
  • On his Guatemalan inspired collection - "I didn't go to Guatemala. I went to the library and opened a book. It was a lot cheaper."
  • On his limited edition Austin Mini-Car - "They said it was impossible to do 28 colours. But the man at the shop said, "I'd like to see if I could do it." It was perfect but when I saw him, he said, "I am divorced now."
  • "Be brave. Do things more punchy, more special."

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