PAUL SMITH

The National - News - Luxury - - MY LUXURY LIFE -

The Bri­tish de­signer is known for his eclec­tic, o en ec­cen­tric tai­lor­ing – char­ac­terised by jaunty prints, psy­che­delic colours and striped pat­terns. Smith started his ca­reer as a suit­maker in 1970, and has since ex­tended his oeu­vre to in­clude women’s and chil­dren’s wear. He has col­lab­o­rated with in­ter­na­tional brands on wide-rang­ing de­sign projects for cars, car­pets and in­te­ri­ors, and even redesigned the cover of a chil­dren’s book. In keep­ing with his dy­namic dis­po­si­tion, the 70-year-old de­signer sent his lat­est col­lec­tions down uni­sex run­ways

IF YOU COULD WAKE UP ANY­WHERE IN THE WORLD TOMORROW, WHERE WOULD YOU BE?

Tomorrow, I’m very happy that I’ll be wak­ing up very early in my home in Lon­don, and jump­ing on the first train to Paris. One of the joys of what I do is that ev­ery day is dif­fer­ent, and I en­joy wak­ing up ev­ery morn­ing and go­ing to work. It’s not o en that I’d change any­thing about the way I’m al­ready do­ing things.

YOU’RE SIT­TING DOWN TO THE PER­FECT MEAL. WHERE ARE YOU, WHAT ARE YOU EAT­ING AND WHOM ARE YOU WITH?

With my wife, Pauline. We’d have some sim­ple white fish in a restau­rant near our home in Italy, where we spend a few weeks in the sum­mer.

YOU’VE DE­SIGNED EV­ERY­THING FROM CLOTHES AND CAR­PETS TO VIN­TAGE CARS. IS THERE ANY­THING YOU HAVEN’T DE­SIGNED YET, BUT WOULD LIKE TO?

Sur­pris­ingly, I ac­tu­ally say “no” to more of­fers than I say “yes” to. I’ve been asked to de­sign some pretty un­ex­pected things, and I think I’ve cov­ered many of the dream items. I was amaz­ingly priv­i­leged when they asked me to de­sign a Le­ica cam­era, as I’ve al­ways been such a keen pho­tog­ra­pher. Like­wise, when I de­signed the jersey for the Giro d’Italia [bi­cy­cle race], as a life­long cy­cling fan, that was a mas­sive hon­our.

YOU’RE A STAUNCH AD­VO­CATE OF THE SUIT. IN YOUR OPIN­ION, WHAT ARE THE DEFIN­ING CHAR­AC­TER­IS­TICS OF A GREAT SUIT?

The main thing is that the suit fits. You should feel com­fort­able and con­fi­dent in it. Style isn’t nec­es­sar­ily about dress­ing a cer­tain way, it’s about an at­ti­tude, and the same is true for a great suit – it’s not al­ways what you wear, it’s the way you wear it.

IF YOU COULD SEE YOUR CLOTHES ON ANY ONE PER­SON, WHO WOULD IT BE, AND WHY?

My wife, Pauline. Ev­ery time. She is a con­stant source of in­spi­ra­tion. Ini­tially, she in­spired me be­cause she was trained as a de­signer at the Royal Col­lege of Art, and had a very par­tic­u­lar un­der­stand­ing of the con­struc­tion of clothes, which she passed onto me. Of course, I liked the way she looked phys­i­cally, but also the way that she dressed. She con­tin­ues to in­spire me be­cause she’s al­ways kept her feet on the ground and she’s very calm.

WHO’S THE BEST DRESSED PER­SON YOU KNOW?

Daniel Day-Lewis. He’s the only bloke I know who can wear a neck­lace and still look cool.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE WAY TO TRAVEL FROM A TO B?

Cy­cling. My love of cy­cling re­ally started when I was a teenager. I had dreams of be­com­ing a pro­fes­sional cyclist, but un­for­tu­nately had a se­ri­ous crash. It was an ac­ci­dent that I couldn’t avoid, but as a re­sult I’ve en­tered the world of de­sign, and out of bad came good.

ARE YOU A COL­LEC­TOR AND, IF SO, WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO COL­LECT?

Any­one who’s seen a pho­to­graph of my of­fice will know that I’m cer­tainly a col­lec­tor. I’m ac­tu­ally a col­lec­tor of col­lec­tions. I col­lect ev­ery­thing from vin­tage bi­cy­cle jer­seys to books, records to rab­bits, stamps to Di­eter Rams de­signs. I al­ways say: “You can find in­spi­ra­tion in ev­ery­thing, and if you can’t, look again.” My of­fice is filled with things I find in­spir­ing.

WHAT DOES LUX­URY MEAN TO YOU?

Not a great deal, re­ally. Ev­ery­one has a dif­fer­ent view on what words like “lux­ury” rep­re­sent. You can get “beau­ti­ful lux­ury quilted jack­ets” and “beau­ti­ful lux­ury quilted toi­let paper”. I o en talk about ef­fort in my work, which I think means a bit more. For me, ef­fort is one of the most im­por­tant in­gre­di­ents in mak­ing some­thing feel spe­cial. I al­ways like to have some­thing in the shops that demon­strates ef­fort. In my shop in May­fair at No 9 Albe­marle Street, for ex­am­ple, it’s the room cov­ered en­tirely with in­di­vid­ual domi­noes.

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