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British design legend known for tailoring with a twist

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My childhood was very sweet, says designer Paul Smith, who grew up in Nottinghamshire, England, the youngest of three eight-year-olds. My mom told me pretty well, Honey, you were a gift from God, a very polite way of saying I was wrong, adds Smith, 74, who is also well behaved. With his siblings already out of the house, Smith spent his teenage years lounging in the company of his parents, taking photos that were developing with his father in the family attic and taking long bike rides through the gardens. Midlands. At 15, he left school with the intention of becoming a professional cyclist, but was forced to drop out of the pursuit after suffering a serious accident two years later, when he started spending weekends. ends in London, with a host of art and music schools that opened his eyes to the cultural currents of the 1960s. Often he goes to concerts and mows home-made screen-printed t-shirts that he makes who was playing (Rod Stewart, Eric Clapton) and uses a portion of his income to pay for gasoline to get home. I came from a working-class family and had no money or education, says Smith. I had to make it work and I loved the clothes.

He loved them so much that in 1970, with the encouragement, guidance and help of Pauline Denyer, his then girlfriend and now wife, who studied fashion at the Royal College of Art, Smith opened a store. windowless, just under 10 feet by 10 feet, in her hometown. On the shelves were some of her own designs, such as double-breasted flannel coats with pearl buttons and flared corduroy pants with cuffed hems. Pauline was the one who first taught me how to cut a pattern, says Smith, who showed her eponymous brands the first full collection of menswear in Paris in 1976 and was immediately praised for her irreverent approach to costume. . An affinity for stripes and various sartorial nods, like a loud lining on a jacket or brightly colored stitching around a buttonhole, have remained his hallmarks ever since, and he has become a mainstay of British fashion. , with outposts in 70 countries. Though expertly crafted from the finest textiles, his work is a reminder that tailoring doesn’t have to be stuffy, and his Spring 2021 collection, which he showcased last month, shows two-button suits in wool blend lavender and mint worn with sandals and no shirts, was no exception. He was inspired by a trip to Havana, something that wouldn’t be so easy at the moment. But if this year has been difficult, with the pandemic and numerous social conflicts, it has also been special for Smith, as 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of his brand, which marks with a monograph, released this week, which details his life and career through 50 of his favorite things. Here, the designer elaborates on the elements of his style and the singular approach to the management of his brand, which is proud to have kept its independence. We’ve always loved having a great day every day, saying thank you and thank you, and not being part of a big machine, he says.

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