A journalist at the press conference for the hotly-anticipated Hello My Name is Paul Smith at the Design Museum made a very interesting point. Paul Smith makes stripy socks and nice suits, like many other designers, what is it about his stripy socks that people buy into? Simple answer: it’s him. It’s his fun, his energy, his silly faces, his flowery shirts, his bandy legs and his unabashed cheerfulness that makes us want to buy his clothes! This is also precisely why this exhibition of his career to date has to be one of the most enjoyable in the history of shows, it’s 100% infused with happiness and celebration. From the walls covered in framed miscellany taken from Paul’s own staircase (only a tiny fraction of the complete archive), to the recreation of his infamous stuff-filled office, this show had journalists and photographers go all squishy and giddy with joy whilst ambling around.
Hello my Name is Paul Smith couldn’t be a better name for this retrospective. Essentially, it’s like being invited to wander around his brain, following him from his first ever 3m x 3m Nottingham shop, to the meeting of his wife Pauline, to his love for cycling to the countries, flowers and people that inspire him. It’s not so much as a wander, perhaps more of a personal tour as small, torn-off bits of paper with hand-scrawled notes from Paul explain what each exhibit is, and what it means to him.
And the clothes. The clothes! Paul has handpicked a selection of his favourite garments that have been created over the years and they too are almost a window into his very well-decorated head. Fun, enthusiastic, considered and guaranteed to put a smile on your face, we can’t recommend a trip to this exhibition enough (even if it is just to run your palms over the 70,000 buttons stuck to one of the walls).
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