Stripes, Style & Tailoring: A visit to Paul Smith

If anyone has brought more colour to the fashion world, it was Paul Smith. In an exclusive interview with ramp Editor-in-Chief Michael Köckritz, the legendary designer reveals how his world-famous and eponymous brand came about, how he works - and what good style is for him. And where can you get to know a person better than in his home? Exactly. That's where we met him.
Text Michael Köckritz
Photo Simon Upton / The World of Interiors © The Condé Nast Publications Ltd.

Keep it simple, but have fun. A recipe for success. It originated in 1970 in a small store in Nottingham. Today it has become a global brand: Paul Smith. A brand in which the designer and founder of the same name is still very much involved. Paul Smith is one of the most famous fashion designers of our time - and occasionally he lives out his creativity on an Art Car. But who is this Sir Paul Smith? Do you know the man if you know the brand? Let's have a look. And the best place to do so is where you can really get close to a person: in his home.

If you take a look at Smith's house in west London, where he has lived with his wife Pauline Denyer for three decades, you'll see: it fits. It is extremely stylishly furnished, nothing seems artificial, but it captivates with a wonderful joy of form and clarity. This is certainly also due to the fact that Paul Smith, a passionate collector, does not hoard his countless treasures here out of consideration for his wife, but at the company headquarters.

Here lives the master of style & stripes: born in 1946 as the son of a tailor, Sir Paul Smith opened a fashion shop in 1970. In 1976 he showed his first collection in Paris - the rest is fashion history. Today, the Paul Smith brand is a globally active fashion empire. The Briton was knighted for his services in 2000.

Despite all the clarity: Even in his home, there is room for the small peculiarities that make it - and thus the person behind it - truly interesting. In his own four walls, Sir Smith also skilfully plays with a wide variety of color shades. Just like with his legendary »Signature Stripe,« the colorful stripe pattern that is iconic for the Paul Smith brand worldwide. »There was never a plan to design this stripe,« says Paul Smith about his trademark.

"I decide quite instinctively whether to accept or reject. There's nothing in particular that I absolutely want to do, but I'm always interested in working in very different industries because I learn so much."

Paul Smith

Like everything else in his company, it has developed very organically, he says. By now the whole world knows it, it also decorated numerous vehicles and turned them into Art Cars. The vehicles were also, of course, not planned in advance, but came into being rather spontaneously. So at least Smith himself: »I decide quite instinctively whether to accept or reject. There's nothing in particular that I absolutely want to do, but I'm always interested in working in very different industries because I learn so much.«

In turn, what is good style for Paul Smith, what a pub night with art students has to do with his career, and who he has (or hasn’t) played golf with?

Find out in Michael Köckritz' exclusive interview with the design legend, in the upcoming rampstyle #25.

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