ELLE meets Paul Smith

At his Design Museum exhibition


If there was a prize for the happiest, most optimistic man in fashion, Paul Smith would probably get it. ‘The key to my life is love of life , I love every day,’ he said at the unveiling of the Design Museum’s exhibition dedicated to him, this morning. ‘I swim every morning at five fifteen, get to work at six, put on some vinyl - Talking Heads this morning – it’s brilliant.’

This isn’t a run-of-the mill fashion exhibition. For a start, there aren’t very many pieces of clothes in it, just one room lined with designs hand-picked by Paul from the archives. Really, it’s a snapshot into the wonderful world of Paul Smith, both the brand and the man. And it’s a world that has, quite literally been recreated.


There’s a replica of Smith’s office, piled high with books and objects picked up on his travels and sent to him by fans (he gets an extraordinary amount of post); his design studio, complete with pattern blocks hanging from the ceiling and mood boards on the wall; and a reinterpretation of the hotel room in Paris that he hired for four days as his showroom right at the beginning of his career and which only one buyer actually visited. ‘It was very important to me that the exhibition capture Paul’s personality, his curiosity, energy, humour, warmth which is why we called it ‘Hello, My Name is Paul Smith’, explained curator Donna Loveday.


There are walls covered with pictures and photographs from his own art collection, examples of the many and varied collaborations that he’s undertaken and snaps of just some of his shops from across the world. And, for the final room, Sony shot backstage at the Paul Smith menswear show in June to create a behind-the-scenes film.

‘It’s absolutely not a retrospective,’ says Smith. ‘The first thing that you walk through in the exhibition is a 12ft square box which was the size of my first shop. The idea that we had was to encourage young people to walk through it and realize that from small beginnings you can actually progress well. It’s all about keeping your feet on the ground, being humble, being patient because it’s not been an overnight success with Paul Smith.‘

The last piece says all you need to know about Smith’s attitude; a giant, joyful post-it note with the words ‘Every day is a new beginning’ scrawled across it. ‘It’s an interesting exhibition because it comes from the heart not a wallet,’ says Paul. We couldn’t agree more.

'My Name is Paul Smith' runs from 15 November 2013 - 9 March 2014 at the Design Museum, Shad Thames, London, SE1 2YD

See our Paul Smith catwalk archive

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