An Interview with Paul Smith

Alongside Robin Hood and Sherwood Forest, world-renowned fashion designer Paul Smith is undoubtedly one of Nottingham’s most famous exports. With his inimitable creations and international following I wanted to find out how this man went from lace market factory worker to global style icon.

What would you say has been your biggest influence?

My biggest influence is simply the observation of life. From walking down the street, going to a museum, seeing a movie, to going on a trip, there’s no one thing.

Any pet hates?

Bad manners, mobile phones in restricted area, when people shout especially! I travel on trains and planes a lot so it drives you crazy when you’ve got somebody next to you who’s bellowing down their phone.

What’s your biggest fear?

Death I suppose. I don’t think any of us want to die

When would you say was the happiest moment of your life?

Actually, this’ll sound really naff and something you don’t want to hear, but I’m a pretty happy guy actually. I can’t select a moment really because luckily every day’s a joy.

When it comes to fashion faux pas, what the worst crime to commit?

Dressing outside of your character or dressing inappropriately for your age. Like a bright Hawaiian shirt if you’re not the bright Hawaiian shirt type.

What’s your favourite city?

I love London but I travel seven months of the year so favourite’s a bit of a difficult word for me, it depends on your mood at that moment. I hate the idea of your favourite music, favourite film, favourite food or favourite city. Tokyo and New York are really exciting and busy, Paris is very romantic, Rome is full of history and London’s where I live so, who knows?

Is there anything which you want to do that you haven’t done already?

No, not really because I’ve never been a big person on trying to achieve a certain thing, what I’m more interested in is the joy of every day so continuity is what I hope to maintain. I think so far one of my best attributes has been the fact I’ve always been quite steady and have always been doing a nice job.

Any advice for aspiring fashion designers?

Well just remember that in any form of creative business there are a lot of people out there doing the same job so you’ve got to have a point of view; you’ve got to have a reason to be. One of the best ways to understand that is through experience so as a fashion designer try and get a Saturday job in a boutique or work placement because living in the real world as oppose to just drawing makes you understand that it’s not just about design but much more.

You’ve been referred to as eccentric and dotty, would you agree with that?

What a marvellous compliment. If you were sitting where I’m sitting in my studio looking at a wooden elephant’s head, a bright gold rabbit, a football, about ten thousand books, a bicycle, fifteen robots and lots of Japanese toys you might agree with that.

And finally, how would you describe Nottingham in one word?


To learn more about Paul Smith visit his website at

By Grace Gordon

Image Credits: Paul Smith

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