Oakham Pre-U textiles students enjoyed an inspiring trip to London visiting exhibitions at the Saatchi Gallery, Royal Academy of Arts and meeting Sir Paul Smith at his head office.
Form 7 student Alice tells us more:
“We were all incredibly excited to meet Sir Paul Smith. In the waiting room we admired the quirky paintings, photos and memorabilia that we soon discovered lined all the walls of the offices. We even spotted some artwork from previous students on the wall!
Sir Paul Smith was incredibly down to earth, charming and hilarious. He seemed thrilled to show us around, even though he had just flown back from New York after designing a range of memorabilia with REM to celebrate 25 years of their first album! He showed us his fascinating collection of objects and told us the stories behind the many items in his office, from dinosaurs to bikes and hats to a clock made from Tic Tacs. He claimed he was never stuck for inspiration.
Whilst there we met with OO Anna Batt who was spending her placement year (as part of her university course) working with him in the PR department. Anna had also been on the same trip in Form 7 and had written to Paul to say how much she enjoyed her visit. It was great to hear her own perspective on working within a very competitive world.
In the offices there was a different department on each floor of the building, the top floor being Marketing, Branding and Communications. The department on the floor below was Textile Design and it was fascinating to see how the designers took inspiration from simple everyday items such as a camera to create a funky or simple print for a garment or accessory. We were shown around each floor and learned how collections were brought together and how different fabrics can change an idea.
The Shop Floor Design department was fascinating. Every one of his shops across the world is different and designers showed us the varying designs and materials used in them. It was interesting to see the contrast between a chic modernist store in Mayfair and a quirky store in Berlin where the changing rooms were made from old school music cassettes and a wall of old mobile (brick) telephones.
It was amazing to see the finished product from the new season’s collection on the last floor, having walked through the different stages in the design process.
It was incredible to get such an insight into the industry and to speak to all the people with many different roles in fashion. It was also fantastic to meet such a fashion genius.
During the trip we also visited the Iconoclast exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery. This included a selection of works from emerging artists based on the theme of modern day iconoclasm. Some of the work was rather radical and gave the viewer much to think about. Each room exhibited the work in a different way, from being totally black with photo screen shots to being covered in carpets and textiles.
Our final stop of the day was the Royal Academy of Arts. We toured the Dali/Duchamp exhibition and saw many surrealist works as well as a different interpretation of identity, which included a comical version of the Mona Lisa. We then saw the Jasper Johns exhibition, which had many interesting monochrome as well as brightly coloured paintings with hidden meanings and different representations. Many students had studied his work at GCSE so it was interesting to see his work first hand.
Overall it was a highly enjoyable and inspirational trip and we will remember meeting Sir Paul Smith forever.”