The Design Museum seems to take large scale fashion retrospectives like this in its stride. The last awe inspiring fashion exhibition I’d taken in was the Christian Louboutin breath-taking tour de force of his life and inspiration, his muses and a glut of his designs through the years that made any shoe-loving woman’s mouth water, so could Sir Paul Smith’s latest design retrospective, ‘Hello , My Name Is Paul Smith’ whet the appetite in the same manner.
If Monsieur Louboutin likes to can-can in, in 4 inch heels, Sir Paul’s approach is to lay his wares (and his influences) on the table discreetly and say, ‘Look, This Is Me’, much like the design museum’s title of the exhibition. With typical British gentlemanly aplomb, Sir Paul seems to shake off the accolades that made his global business a British stalwart in the Far East as well as in the UK. This is simply good design with no frills….well, maybe a little, but with lots of stripes.
The retrospective of his work looks at the impressive scale of Paul Smith’s global operation, drawing on Paul’s personal archive, from the company’s beginnings in Nottingham to its international prominence today. The exhibition deems to explore how Paul Smith’s intuitive take on design, together with an understanding of the roles of designer and retailer, have laid the foundations for the company’s lasting success and offer a unique insight into the magnificent mind of Paul Smith, all in a very British manner.
Visitors are taken on a journey through Paul Smith’s world. On entering, there’s a vast walkway and room crammed floor to ceiling with the artwork that Paul collects and what inspires him. This is delightfully revealing as naive prints jostle with art, prints and posters that all relay a little ‘something’ of Paul’s inspiring character.
Visitors then walk through in to a recreation of Paul’s personal office which contains a myriad of books and objects – his continual source of inspiration. Projections, audio and film clips from fashion shows and behind-the-scenes reveal the inner workings and influences of the Paul Smith brand. Showcasing a selection of jewellery, books, art and antiques that complement the clothing collections, every Paul Smith shop is unique and is explored in the exhibition. This is World of Paul Smith laid bare. And very approachable it is too.
The exhibition also showcases the brand through collections selected by Paul and touchingly, Paul Smith’s first shop in Byard Lane, Nottingham, which measured 3m x 3m, is recreated in the exhibition alongside an immersive digital room rich in still and moving image. Thoughts narrated by Paul himself and sounds place the viewer in his framework.
Guests at the opening event lapped it up including Henry Holland, Ron Arad, Neville Brody, Colin McDowell and Peter Capaldi, who gave no direct hints in conversation to me of what he’ll wear for his first Dr Who appearance save that it was decided by committee. (Hmm, could it be Paul Smith?).
‘Hello, My Name Is Paul Smith’ at THE DESIGN MUSEUM, SHAD THAMES, LONDON SE1 2YD
OPENS: 10.00 -17.45 daily. Last admission: 17.15 Admissions: £11.85 Adults, £7.50 Students, £6.50 Registered disabled, £6.50 under 16, Members: free Under 12s Free. PUBLIC INFORMATION T: 020 7940 8790 W: designmuseum.org