Entitled ‘Hello My Name Is Paul Smith’, the exhibition is curated by Donna Loveday, and charts the designer’s major landmarks in the life of the global brand, from the a mock-up of his first shop he owned in Nottingham, a 3m x 3m box, to a recreation of his “cluttered” office, and even the brand’s first showroom space in Paris inside a hotel suite.
"If you ask a question, I'll give you a pair of socks," said Sir Paul Smith at the press conference to launch the new exhibition, before reminiscing about the early days of the brand, and how the exhibition came about.
“The first thing you see, walking through, is a 12 foot square box which is my first shop,” he said. “When you realise it was managed by my Afghan hound Homer and me, you realise it was very cosy.”
He added: “The idea we had was to encourage young people and show that from small a beginning you can progress well. Keep your feet on the ground, be humble, and be patient – it’s not been an overnight success.”
The exhibit is more than just a fashion exhibition, as there is only one room dedicated to the designer’s clothing, it is more about charting the rise of the British brand and celebrating the creative process of Smith and the history of the business.
Paul Smith opens exhibition at the Design Museum
“This is exhibition is not just about fashion, it's about how Paul sees the world," added Deyan Sudjic, director of the museum.
After walking through Smith’s first shop, the exhibition opens out into a long room lined with framed pictures of images found, sent or captured by the designer, indicating that this exhibit is more about the personality of the man and the designer than his fashion designs.
There is also a recreation of his personal office, filled with artefacts that he has collected from rabbit figurines, a pink Dyson, cameras, bikes, and stacks of books, which formed the basis of the exhibition, Loveday explained.
“As we talked it became very clear that Paul is an avid collector and often the collections would form an idea for a new fashion collection. I knew we had to recreate his office,” said Loveday. “The exhibition gives visitors a rare insight into his world. What I hope this exhibition will show is Paul’s humour, wit and warmth.”
His design studio is also replicated, complete with Pantone books and pattern blocks, and there is a digital room featuring a short psychedelic film ‘Inside Paul’s Head’ along with screens showcasing abstract images, which is narrated by Smith explaining his creative process.
There are also rooms dedicated to the designer’s numerous collaborations from cars to teapots, his individual approach to the design of his shops, which includes a wall decorated with buttons, as well as a look behind-the-scenes of his menswear show in June, and there is a fun photo set up to be captured alongside life-size cardboard cut-outs of Smith.
The exhibition ends with a giant post-it note with the words “Every day is a new beginning” written across it – one of Smith’s sayings.
‘Hello My Name is Paul Smith’ at the Design Museum runs from November 15 – March 9, 2014.
Image: Sir Paul Smith/Design Museum