‘Hello My Name is Paul Smith’ exhibition has been on show at The Lighthouse in Glasgow and Ingrid from the studio got the chance to visit this iconic exhibition. Here is what she thought about the exhibition & the iconic British designer.
Paul Smith is a designer who I knew about but it was only after stumbling upon an article in ‘Cyclist’ Magazine that my interest in this iconic British designer grew. In this article it talks of the designer’s love of bikes & fashion –
‘As a designer, Smith fully appreciates the aesthetic beauty of cycling. He talks about the elegance of hand crafted bikes, the simplicity of aerodynamic shapes and the almost childlike sense of fun inspired by cycling’s vivid jersey colours. “I think cycling has always had a close bond with style and that’s the same today with brands like Rapha.” He says. With cycling, you always care about the details.’
Being a keen cyclist myself, the designer’s love of bikes & fashion was something I instantly related too and he has been a designer who I have followed closely since. Therefore I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get a closer look at the designer’s world.
Charting Smith’s rise from the very beginning including a replica of his first shop space and design studios it gives an incredible insight into his creativity.
The design studio has geometric patterned walls surrounding a long desk lined with iMac’s, colour samples, fabric swatches, yarn wraps, archive print, weave and leather sample books with mood boards full of swatches, colour ways and inspiration. Within the riot of colour, pattern, print and textures covering all the collections this busy studio creates, I am particularly taken with small-embossed leather samples for a collection of handbags. There are leather shoes with a similar embossed pattern sitting beside reminding you of the range of products, collections and designs Paul Smith creates each season. With paper garment patterns high above the busy studio on a rail documenting designs season upon season gives you the insight into the inner workings of this design world. It also makes me realise the amount of creativity produced and gathered within a studio. There is so much in this small space and being fascinated by process I can’t help but wonder how much beautiful work has filtered through this space that has just been shelved. Memories of mill archive tours and our British textile heritage all come to mind; it feels a real honour to see this side of Paul Smith, the building of our modern British design industry.
Well known for his colourful stripes and beautifully tailored menswear suits, it’s easy to see why this designer can often be overlooked for bolder counterparts. However this exhibition showcases the designer’s incredibly clever approach to design. For his menswear line the tailored pieces are incredibly skilled pieces of craftsmanship and very wearable. There are beautiful subtle variations in cut emphasized in the staggered display of jackets. The following rail has these jackets hanging however inside out with the colourful patterned lining on show. The surprise of a bright lining adds a playful surprise to these very functional men’s jackets adding creativity without compromising the garments wearability for the customer.
Numerous film-based pieces are displayed throughout the exhibition, with the designer talking about his creative approach and inspiration to final fashion shows on & behind the catwalk. In one of these films Smith discusses using colour in a creative way, but what really strikes me is how he discusses colour and it’s association with being bright or bold. Smith emphasizes the often overlooked colours of black, navy and grey for example are still colours. They can still be used and considered creatively.
I’m reminded of our playful approach to design here at KS seeing Smith’s prints in unexpected colours, bold coloured stripes in mixed proportions, contrasting elements throughout yet all incredibly wearable collections. Just walking through the exhibition spaces you get a real sense of the busy creative energy bursting from the Paul Smith studio and it’s contagious energy. At the studio all of our pieces start with a function, whether this it to keep you warm or carry all of your belongings, however we don’t see why functional clothes & accessories should compromise on style, aesthetic & creativity.
Filtering out from the world of Paul Smith you step into the everyday objects that Paul Smith has added his signature style and stripes too, including a classic Mini. Once again, creativity in the everyday, exactly what we try to do here everyday at Kirsteen Stewart.