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“The thing I’m most interested in is continuity. I’ve always worked hard at not being today’s flavour” – Paul Smith.

Paul Smith clothes are classically British; they are impeccably tailored, incorporate quirky details and never take themselves too seriously. Not only do his garments stand the test of time in the history of fashion, Smith is also one of the most financially successful British designers perhaps due to his fine-tuned marketing mind. In 1970, he opened his first store in his native Nottingham selling his first unbranded designs; by 1974 the dream of ‘Paul Smith’ the brand was starting to become tangible and two years later he showed his first menswear collection in Paris.

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Fast forward forty years, and Smith is now the subject of two major projects. The first, a documentary entitled ‘Gentleman Designer’ by Stéphane Carrell, provides a never before seen insight into the creative world of Paul Smith. Also released in conjunction with the documentary is ‘Paul Smith: Notes’, a book in which he tells his story from the very beginning. Smith, a very visual designer, has illustrated the book with his personal collection of images, from scribbles to photographs;

“The idea was, why don’t we just have a conversation? Because I always carry a notebook and pen and I’m always writing notes. So they decided why don’t we do a notebook, which is interesting for people and also very honest.

Paul Smith was recently awarded the Outstanding Achievement in Fashion Design by the British Fashion Council; a prize undoubtedly he deserved. Not only has he brought innovative ideas to the world of menswear; (he was instrumental in showing that bold and eye catching prints, were not just for women), he has created a brand that continues to expand and achieve notoriety globally, without comprising the integrity of his vision. Paul Smith; a true gentleman designer.

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Written by Camilla Harrison

Camilla is currently in her final year studying BA Fashion History and Theory at Central St Martins and is a freelance writer for a range of publications and websites, writing fashion, arts and culture. In the last year, Camilla has been archiving the garments and history of Margaret Howell.

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