Style | Diary of a Somebody

Paul Smith

From top notes to typefaces – a day in the life of the English designer

Paul Smith

November 02 2010
Paul Smith

Day: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

I started off my day as usual today, right after dawn with a swim – I hit the pool at around 6.15am and then arrived at work. My studio is in Covent Garden and we have 180 people in the building – getting in nice and early as I do, I’m normally the only one here apart from the cleaners, which means I can sort myself out and prepare everything for the day. I made some phone calls to the Far East and listened to a bit of music – I have the newest Arcade Fire album on loop at the moment.

My team are all either on the same floor or one below me, so as they started to arrive I popped around with some questions. It’s so great all being so close – it keeps communication very open. Though I think I drive them crazy…

I’ve just begun working on the autumn/winter 2011 fabric selection for my men’s mainline collection. I am pleased to say that all my knitwear will be made in Britain and a lot of the yarns also are British. I always try to use British fabrics and yarns in my collections but sadly many of the mills and factories don’t exist any more.

Here in the studio we work on 13 different collections at once, twice a year, so there’s never a quiet time. We also work an entire year ahead, so the collection I’ve been working on this morning will be shown on the catwalk in Paris in January next year.

I had an interesting meeting to discuss a new fragrance project, which will be launching in about 18 months’ time. As anyone can imagine, it’s a very competitive world so we always have to try and make it new and exciting and buzz-making while still keeping it Paul Smith. We had a really good chat and lots of ideas came out, some of them unexpected. It’s such a different world to fashion; I always find it fascinating to work on – I’ve definitely learned a lot about base notes and top notes over the years.

Over my sandwich at lunchtime I unpacked a couple of boxes that had come from Japan the day before. I just came back from a visit there – on a trip which also took in Korea – and whenever I’m there I always allocate myself half a day to look around the shops. So the boxes I sort of send back to myself, full of the various things I found and wanted to get. One of the best finds this time was from a secondhand bookshop – a pile of Emigre magazines from the 1990s. It’s a graphic design magazine, sort of a type catalogue with amazing art direction, and is full of brilliant work. I’ll try and make time to read them over the next few days.

And just as I finished, the postman arrived – very exciting! Every day I receive things sent to me from people all around the world, which is most flattering. I get books, toys, sometimes plastic fruit – who knows. Today’s postbag included two “Mr Machines” – very cool 1970s toys that walk and whistle, lots of fun. I’ll keep sending updates on what else I get, since I never know what I’m going to receive; there’s always a surprise.

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