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Reflective Notes – Hello, My Name is Paul Smith (27th November)

I was very interested to see this exhibition, as I’ve studied Paul Smith previously in College (studying Fashion Retail). This is another exhibition I wanted to consider for my essay. I love his mentality towards his career and he’s insanely successful.

As you walk in, you are invited into a boxed area of about 3 metres. There are paragraphs all over the walls explaining what’s what and the room was the size of Smith’s first shop. It was inspiring to see such a successful career start from such a small shop (that’s even smaller than my old bedroom). As you walk out, collected memorabilia filled each side of the hallway, and it was amazing. I took pictures of all the ones that caught my eye and made me smile!

TV screens and mirrors, engulf you in a video of moving images whilst Paul Smith is talking about his inspiration. “A lot of people think that design is just about drawing something that comes from your head, and the rest just magically happens. That is not true.” His inspiration comes from everywhere. Wherever he goes he documents it via camera/notebook – Hong Kong, Deli, New York, LA. He doesn’t like standing still and he loves street markets – they are his favourite places (info from video).

A room that replicates Smith’s studio in Covent Garden was cluttered and it seems as if you could barely move, but I think I prefer that mentality to a completely bare studio with no source of inspiration around you. In a way it brought out another level of respect for me.

Paul Smith’s first show room – cut out card/foam board in the style of a Paris hotel room. Smith had drawn onto each shape – a bed, table, lamp. His first collection was printed onto rectangular shapes, placed on top of the bed. There was a quaint feel to this room and the theme of starting from scratch kept flowing through his displays. Seeing the whole room as line drawings was very playful and almost childlike – like it was back to basics and reflecting the start of his career.

A replica of his design studio in Covent Garden – there were fabric samples, designs and computers all bundled onto a long table. It was an organised mess! On the opposite side, were clipped up booklets, presumably the companies’ previous printed work, as well as a display of various products, posters and inspirational pieces (for example Paul Smith perfume Sunshine edition).

“Collaborations” – I’d never realised how much he’d branched out with his designs. He’d collaborated with various companies and people like HP sauce, David Bowie, Mini, Evian etc. The Mini was probably my favourite, especially from when I researched him in College. Seeing it in person, compared to the Internet or in a book, just put a huge smile on my face. I also liked the Kid Robot collaboration, because I’ve recently been introduced to their work – it’s a shame their shop in London has now gone! – I found the toy figurines humorous and playful, a good match with Paul Smith and his light hearted ways.

I loved the line of images of his shops from all over the world. London looked rather vintage in comparison to places like Los Angeles and Korea – they had spectacular architectural designs. It’s also massively impressive to see how far his company has spread across the world! I think I liked the building in Los Angeles the best, as it was just a big bright pink box…

The Paul Smith archive – the clothes were slightly whacky! There were some gorgeous pieces, such as a military jacket with beautiful embellishment, along with some rather outrageous garments that I could only possibly see someone wearing in London.

A video for Spring/Summer 2014 – I thought was lovely. It portrayed his free spirit and level-headedness towards his four catwalk shows a year, when other designers probably wouldn’t even consider allowing someone to film them, and it shows his personality too. I watched the whole video with a smile on my face. I got the impression that fashion design is his life that he obviously takes very seriously, but equally effortlessly.

Overall, I really loved this exhibition. Although, it was a bit smaller than I expected, it really showed a new perspective towards Paul Smith and not simply portraying him as a snooty London designer who has no time for anyone or anything else (I never thought that originally anyway!). I think as I have previously researched him, it really helped develop my opinion on this exhibition, especially being able to see his Mini Cooper design in person too! It was great that I could take as many photos as I liked too, as a lot of exhibitions don’t allow either sketching or photography. This will really help re-cap what I saw, what I liked and how to emphasise my feelings towards the pieces in the exhibition. It’s clear I have a lot to say about this exhibition, so I think it’s perfect for my essay.

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This was a small exhibition the floor above the Paul Smith exhibition. It was quite interesting as it was based around signs and modernism. Not nearly as impressive as Paul Smith though!

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