Textiles Visit To Designer Paul Smith

Oakham’s Textiles pupils were delighted to visit Sir Paul Smith’s head office in Covent Garden.

Form 6 pupil Josh tells us more:

“Upon our arrival to the Paul Smith Head office just outside of Covent Garden, we were greeted kindly by the staff; then Sir Paul Smith surprised us by appearing seemingly from nowhere! He accompanied us up four flights of stairs, which were adorned with original artworks and cards, to his “penthouse” – the working hub of the building.

His “penthouse” or “toy room” (as he called it) is filled from floor to ceiling, with every inch of the wall plastered with quirky objects such as dinosaurs, spinning tops, the list goes on, but close to everything in the room has been sent by his own fans which he sees as an extremely “humbling” experience.

The head office works from the top down. Creativity downwards! The top floor is the creative hub, which houses his main office and his leather products. Floor 3 is home to print and accessories and it was lovely to see firsthand that they still hand draw or create images to work on as well as using technology. Floor 2 contains his in-house architects (every Paul Smith shop is different and has a different character – coins, dominoes, cassettes, mobile phones etc.) His pink shop in LA is the most instagrammed building to date. Floor 2 also had the social media department (Anna Batt OO worked here recently).

Sir Paul Smith’s designing process for every collection starts an entire year or two years in advance, so they are currently working on spring 2021. The design process starts around the table in the “toy room” from an initial idea, whether it be from a book or object around them or, in the most recent line, Sir Paul Smith’s most recent travels to Chile in March.

The career of a designer or someone that has studied fashion design can be extremely tough, but there is a plethora of other related jobs such as social media, marketing, buyers, visual merchandising, window dresser and so on.

Sir Paul spoke a lot about the beginning of his career, which is particularly close to his heart as he is about to showcase the 50th year anniversary of his first show. We were surprised to see that his first shop manager (Homer, his Afghan hound) will be a focus for this show, as well as his iconic stripes and retro prints. “Every day is a new beginning” was one of his original quotes and is still at the forefront of his outlook today. This was something we could all take from him.

We would like to thank Sir Paul and his staff for their hospitality. This was a truly inspirational visit. On behalf of my Pre-U Textile group I would like to say a huge thank you to all involved and a special thank you to Sir Paul Smith who has made me (and many of the group) realise that this is the direction I wish to follow.”

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