"Hello My Name is Paul Smith" is the latest exhibition to launch at The Lighthouse in Glasgow and I was lucky enough to be invited along to the launch, with the man himself, Paul Smith, giving us a guided tour of the fantastic exhibition.
The exhibition invites you into the world of Paul Smith and you're treated to a unique insight into his life, "a world of fashion, creation, inspiration, collaboration, wit and beauty". The iconic striped mini sits outside the doors, teasing you with what's to come. To me Paul Smith reminds me of my Mums dressing table with a striped bottle always in place, or the scribbled logo on my Dads clothes and I couldn't wait to find out more about the iconic brand.
As you make your way round the exhibition you're surrounded by Paul's Art Wall. An amazing collection of his own photos, prints and imagery that he's collected over time. There's no way you can take it all in in one go, but the jumble of beautiful pictures creates a fascinating impression.
It's built to the exact proportions of the original shop and is truly tiny! Paul started off by opening the shop just two days a week with an Afghan Hound acting as the store manager.
Next up on the trip is his first showcase - a tiny presentation in a Parisian hotel room back in 1976. Paul joked how he opened on the Monday, but no-one came until Thursday! But one customer was all he needed to see his collection of six shirts.
You also get to see a replication of his office from the 80's, complete with a mismatched collection of all the items that have inspired him. You can spy plastic Japanese food, the image of which is then printed on a shirt and a skateboard made into a stool. It's an Aladdin's cave of fascinating bits and bobs.
Paul is all about individuality. Every Paul Smith shop is different and has been modelled on a variety of inspirations, each left with an individual look that makes it wholly unique.
A really special room is a small one filled with objects suspended from the ceiling. They are all gifts that Paul has received annually from an anonymous gift-giver. He explained that it's been happening for over 30 years and each year an object, no packaging, appears from the postman. There's been everything from a ski, to a mannequin torso and each is covered in stamps which reflect the object itself. Paul said, "it's so brilliant, they're never looking for anything" and we were all left to dream about the origin of the unique gifts.
"Everyday has a new beginning"
It was fascinating to hear such a successful man talk about his life and his business. He laughed that he had originally wanted to be a racing cyclist, but when this didn't work out he turned his attentions elsewhere. He described how he built a slow and steady career and really just wanted to make clothes that people liked stating that style should be about you and not what's on trend.
This is an exhibition built on inspiration and when you leave I guarantee you'll be filled with the stuff. Throughout you find out loads about the man himself and you're invited into his life. It's a magical concoction of the history of the label and personal stories from the builder of the brand. You're taken on an inspirational journey from humble beginnings in the tiny shop to the impressive brand, strutting down catwalks all over the world.
The exhibition is in The Lighthouse in Glasgow and runs from 21st January - 20th March - and I really would recommend a visit!
Thanks so much to Aura PR for inviting me along, The Lighthouse for having me and Paul Smith for your fascinating stories!