This afternoon Sir Paul Smith bounced onto stage alongside Alexa Chung for the 2013 Vogue Festival. Rather than setting straight into the questions, Smith took ten minutes to address his adoring fans and talk about the idea of inspiration. A quote was projected on the big screen above him that read “You can find inspiration in everything. If you can’t then you’re not looking properly.” Wise words, indeed, Sir Paul. He proceeded by showcasing images of various photos, such as beach huts or travel snaps, followed by images of the designs that were inspired by the colours or shapes in the photos. Basically he was sending a clear message that “it’s all there if you want it.”
Interestingly enough, Sir Paul Smith did not strike out in life with the goal of becoming a fashion designer. He actually dreamt of being a professional cyclist. Sadly, an accident, led him down another path. Sir Paul’s late night antics in a local pub would actual lead him to fashion. Hearing a group of young Nottingham locals talk about the industry got him thinking about the possibilities and the rest, as they say, is history.
Today, Sir Paul Smith is the man behind one of the UK’s biggest brands. He has 12 collections, hundreds of stand alone retail stores and a turnover of £300 million. Should you believe such massive accolades would go to one’s head, Sir Paul Smith showcases the exact opposite. As Alexa Chung said, he is considered one of the nicest men in fashion. Even from fifteen rows back, you can feel the warmth that is projected from this individual. He is a barrel of goodness radiating hope from every pore. Even as he answered questions from both Alexa and the public, he was jumping here, there and everywhere, whenever given the chance. It was an amazing thing to watch.
So how has this man risen to the top? Well, it’s certainly not by spending hours in front of a computer as he doesn’t even own one (although he does provide all his own content to his four assistants for his instagram and blog). Take a moment to really take that in. When asked how he communicated, Sir Paul Smith answered, “with pencil and pen of course.” And Sir Paul, we just fell in love with you a little bit more. Apparently Paul receives loads of letters in the mail, for which he feels very privileged. Receiving is one thing, answering is another. One would expect that such a popular man would read the lovely letters, set them aside and move on with the day. That’s certainly not the case here as Sir Paul spends every morning writing between 15-20 postcards replying to those who have taken the time to write to him.
When the audience was given time to ask questions, so many people asked about personal style and what inspires Sir Paul Smith? His responses were some of the most quotable quotes of the day. The favourite – “Don’t dress for fashion, dress for yourself.” Well, that’s one we’ve been preaching for some time, right? Now maybe you’ll listen since Sir Paul Smith has said the sacred words. When it comes to Sir Paul Smith’s style, well it doesn’t go further than his own designs. He’s all about wearing what he makes and you have to love him for it. He says he just goes in and steals from his own stores, and why wouldn’t you when you can steal such fantastic pieces?
I’ll close this with one of my favourite comments of the night. When asked how Sir Paul Smith stays grounded in an industry where is he basically top of the pops, he said “If you have love in your life, you don’t care about what is happening outside of that space.” Wiser words were never spoken. What to take from it? Surround yourself with loved ones, give love, receive love, live love… The rest will take care of itself.
Thank you, Sir Paul Smith for filling our hearts and minds with wonderful and inspirational tidbits.