Paul Smith

Paul Smith celebrates the tenth anniversary this week of his fabulous Portobello shop Westbourne House. Although I don’t lust after his clothing – it’s a bit too commercial for me – I do adore the aesthetic and the style of Paul Smith as a brand and I always find something to buy in his shops whether it’s a photography book, an astronaut pen or a roll of novelty sellotape. When I was a student I found an LP in a second hand shop called Memories of Paris by (another) Paul Smith. Thinking its kitschness was totally Paul Smith I took it along to the shop in Floral Street. I don’t know quite what I expected them to do with it but sure enough they loved it and thanked me with four rainbow-coloured Paul Smith toothbrushes. I’d like to think my little offering is still alive somewhere in his basement where he keeps his huge archive of knick knacks (think old books, toy cars, globes and other random bits and bobs that Smith has collected over time or been given or sent by his many fans). Apart from anything else, Smith always comes across as a lovely man who would be great fun to work for and learn from. My friend B once said she wishes he was her dad and I know exactly what she means! Paul Smith is also the only company I can think of that calls journalists to apologise for not being able to honour the request for a show invitation. Imagine! This is no random gesture, if you read Smith’s book You Can Find Inspiration in Everything, you will find that everything about the company is thought through and huge attention is paid to detail and how to do things differently. I hadn’t picked it up for years but reading it this weekend I realised that this book itself is hugely inspiring if you’re having a creative block. It teaches you to look at things differently and think outside the box.