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FashionBite meets legendary designer Paul Smith at his London head office

FashionBite and designer Paul SmithDesigner Paul SmithDesigner Paul SmithDesigner Paul SmithDesigner Paul Smith's officeDesigner Paul Smith's officeDesigner Paul Smith's officeFashionBite and a group of select bloggers were lucky enough to be invited to Paul Smith’s head offices today to meet the man himself for coffee, a sneak peak of his new fragrance lines and a glance at his AW11 collections.

I don’t know what I was expecting, but I have to say Sir Paul Smith is the nicest man!! He was absolutely delightful – so friendly and welcoming to us all. We were sat round a big wooden table in his office, but it felt like we were just sat having a coffee and chat with friends.

As I joined the group, the iconic designer was showing everyone his selection of quirky gifts which had been sent to him by avid Paul Smith fans, this included a tiny toy train set and a nativity scene made from peanut shells! His office was an experience in itself (see above), the literal representation of a creative mind it was piled high with books, magazines, DVD’s, gifts, toys, prints, pictures…anything that you imagine would inspire him on a daily basis. But it didn’t seem messy, more of a creative chaos!

The designer told us that humour is incredibly important to him, and to help make people relax in business meetings he will bring the odd prop to lighten the mood! This includes a rubber chicken which he’ll whip out in the middle of a discussion and a mini train set which he disguises as a briefcase and opens up to reveal trains, rather than documents. It was hilarious, I certainly wasn’t expecting this level of candid openness…so refreshing!

Sir Paul said he’s not really into the celebrity gifting side of things, he’d rather someone wear his products because they like them. However, he did show us a recent shot of the Dalai Lama sporting one of his instantly recognisable stripy scarves…pretty cool!

I was also quite keen to hear Sir Paul’s thoughts on the British Fashion industry and his advice for young designers…

He said: “The British fashion scene is great at ideas, but it is not so good at turning the ideas into a business. We don’t have captains of the industry, in the same way you would get them abroad, there is not the support and willingness. It is probably because UK fashion is dominated by the high street and chains. It is a different way of retailing over here.”

He continued: “Today as a designer, you’ve got to be aware of the industry and you need to know about prices..etc. I worked it out myself, but slowly because I started out with a shop. My advice to a young designer would be to get as much experience of life as possible, work in a clothes shop or work in bars, alongside designing. Get as much experience of business as possible. I’m not an earth shattering designer or businessman, I’m not comparable to Galliano or McQueen, but I’ve worked at it.”

When asked about the rumours that he was possibly designing a capsule collection for high street giant H&M, Sir Paul said a “high street collaboration for H&M would not be appropriate for me.” He didn’t denounce the idea, but he didn’t feel it was right for the label.

For SS12 womenswear, which Paul Smith is currently designing, he said: “Colour-wise, there won’t be as many pastels. We are also returning to slightly baggier silhouettes for next summer [SS12]. It will be a more feminine look with lots of prints, a move away from the more androgynous look of previous seasons.”

Keep posted for a review of Paul Smith’s AW11 collection…coming soon!

Pal Smith has also just launched a new fragrance for men and women called ‘Optimistic’, the name has been inspired by the designer’s personality…and I can see why! See PaulSmith.co.uk to purchase the new perfume, which is both sweet and fruity- great for summer.

For more info on the brand, see Paul Smith.

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