Paul Smith at his Womenswear SS17 show in London, backstage
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Hu Bing interviews the leading British designer
Hu Bing, one of the Ambassadors of London Fashion Week, virtually interviewed Paul Smith during London Digital Fashion Week and asked him to talk about his perspective towards fashion, in the contemporary background which has been so heavily hit by the Coronavirus pandemics and its consequent economic crisis.
“Covid-19 has been, as we all know, an absolute awful thing to almost every country in the world“, said the British designer. “I think what it has done for me, which is what is done for lots of people, is made us more humble and realized the importance of health, friendship and camaraderie, and keeping your feet on the ground.“
On the business front, it has been a difficult moment clearly for his namesake independent British brand, as he has been forced out to close his stores all around the world, as any other fashion industry, because of the ongoing lockdown; yet, notwithstanding the difficulty of the moment, this also proved to be a turning point for Paul Smith, an opportunity to be leaner and more alert business than a year ago. From now on, it expects to slow down on new shops, and put more emphasis on the E-commerce site, that is actually effective since 2004. Coronavirus can also be the opportunity for a more efficient in-season delivery of the clothing products inside the stores.
He takes us back to the period when he started in fashion (we are talking about the 1970’s Britain!), when fashion was mostly about traditional fabrics; dressing used to change a lot according to the context (countryside dressing could differ so much from city dressing, for instance). Unlike then, modern fashion has developed in a positive way, benefitting from international inputs from the youth, and the many “fantastic art schools and universities in London”. All these elements have been helpful to bring more lateral ways of thinking of things.
Working -remotely- on his Fall/Winter 2021 collection, Paul Smith found himself thinking about what clothes should be like in the next future. “Clothes for 2021 will be less radical, more easy to wear, more “seasonless” and midway clothes“, but without renouncing to the fashion element. In what has become an extremely homogenized world, holding on to one’s own individuality and personality can be a lovely resource and a tool of distinction, and fashion can play a fundamental role in this way.
“With Paul Smith, you will always find a little sense of humour. There is always a little hidden something under the carf, a different type of button, a surprise if you open the suit up often there will be interesting colours in the lining“, said Paul Smith, alluding to what he likes to call “classic with a twist” principle to describe his clothing: it consists in a successful blend between classic, impeccably-made and elegant tailoring, and the inclusion of that small, ironic and eccentric element that makes a Paul Smith piece of clothing so unique. “Because with Paul Smith, there is somebody called Paul Smith and he has a heart, and he is talking to you now. Bless you all and please take care.“
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