The world famous designer Paul Smith was recently in Glasgow to celebrate the opening of the “Hello, My Name is Paul Smith” exhibition at The Lighthouse venue in the city. The exhibition was first displayed in London a few years ago; but has since spent 2015 and 2016 (so far) touring Europe. Now it is Glasgow’s turn to host…
Paul Smith, along with his counterpart Ray Kelvin, has always been vocal about his affinity with Glasgow, previously writing:
“I’ve always had affection for Glasgow based on the city’s strong art heritage and its wonderful link with creativity. Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the School of Art and just the whole atmosphere of the place is fantastic.”
I was invited down to meet with Paul and get a sneak peak at the Glasgow-leg of the exhibition, guided by the man himself. “Hi, My Name is Paul Smith” draws on Paul’s personal archive and memories, spanning from the company’s very beginnings in the city of Nottingham to the now infamous international prominence the company have built.
The first thing that was instantly noticeable as I entered The Lighthouse was the charisma of Paul himself, he could instantly be identified, despite a) facing the other way …and b) wearing a traditional blue suit and pastel shirt combination.
As he turned to address the noise of us coming through the door, his face was welcoming and content, instantly putting my nerves (I WAS MEETING AN IDOL!) at rest. There was no ego at play here, it was obvious.
I could tell this before he had even opened his mouth yet…
One of the first things that Paul wanted to clarify was the real purpose of the creation of exhibition in the first place. He stressed (almost defensively) that the aim was not to create a vanity project, or an exhibition of how fashion has developed through the years; the exhibition was put together in an attempt to inspire more young people into starting their own business. Any business, in any industry.
The exhibition was mainly recreations of essential rooms in Paul’s business history. However, also included was the “Inside Paul’s Head” room, which aimed to pull together all of the different muses Paul uses to try and inspire his creativity. There is also a room which collects the most bizarre items Paul has been sent by his biggest fan. He/She has been sending him items since the late seventies; Paul doesn’t know their identity, he doesn’t want to. However, if you are reading this, you should know…he has kept them all…
For me, the highlights of the exhibition were:
- A recreation of Paul’s first shop in Nottingham (which measured 3mx3m!!)
- A recreation of the Parisian hotel room in which Paul Smith sold their first collection
- A recreation of Paul’s office (a nonsensical sensory bombardment)
There was no doubt in my mind walking around this exhibition that the Paul Smith in front of me was the same Paul Smith that was welcoming strangers to view his home-made creations in broken French many years ago. Fame and success haven’t changed him; they have simply facilitated his creativity.