Recently, I spent an afternoon at The Lighthouse on Mitchell Lane. It was one of those rare midweek afternoons, where I had a few hours on my hands and some welcome quiet time. Instead of planning a late lunch or catch up session (which would normally be my default setting!), I decided to spend the afternoon with Paul Smith. Not the REAL Paul Smith of course (though how awesome would that be?!), but rather a visit to the latest exhibition to hit The Lighthouse – Hello My Name is Paul Smith.
As well as an insight into the business of fashion design, the exhibition invites us to explore the mind and creativity of Paul Smith, who has been producing his work since the 1970s and is today one of the leading names in British fashion (and known worldwide for his playful and innovative designs). I couldn’t wait to get a peek into his world, and brought my trusty camera along with me.
Hello My Name is Paul Smith starts (like any good story) at the beginning. It follows the designer from his roots, overcoming setbacks and discovering his passion for design. There’s also a look at his first ever shops (including a scale model of the 3m x 3m Nottingham shop!) and replicas of Paul Smith’s Covent Garden office and the design studio – complete with a radio belting out Rod Stewart.
Inside Paul’s Head is one of my favourite parts of the exhibition – a powerful small space, making excellent use of sound and vision. In this installation, Paul himself explains how simple and powerful the design process can be and how ideas can truly come from anywhere. He even talks about his Instagram account and what sorts of things would inspire him to post – which I found really interesting. I love to find out what makes people look twice and decide to share an image, especially someone as creative and visual as Paul Smith!
Something that I noticed quite quickly is how likeable Paul Smith is – he has a genuine joy for his work and a relaxed humour which made me enjoy learning more about him. His excitement for colours and textures was infectious and it was inspiring to listen to him speak in the interactive areas of the exhibition.
A Day in the Life of a Fashion Show was another show-stopping section. While surrounded by Paul’s personal selection of pieces from his archive, a short documentary following the Paul Smith Men’s Spring Summer 2014 show in Paris is displayed on large screens, along with footage of the designer preparing for the event and talking through the design process. A balance between traditional craftsmanship and embracing new technology, it’s all about design coming from the unexpected.
My visit ended by looking at some of Paul Smith’s most memorable collaborations with other brands and creatives, with everything from sunglasses, to limited-edition bottles of HP Sauce (for Harrods, dah-ling) and one stunning Mini from 1998. Everything was beautifully designed, with that classic pop of Paul Smith colour or pattern.
Taking in Hello My Name is Paul Smith was the perfect way to spend my afternoon. I left grinning from ear to ear, telling everyone I spoke to for the next 24 hours (AT LEAST!) that they must check it out. And I think you should too, and here’s why: you don’t need to be a fashionista to enjoy this exhibition. Yes, it does showcase the work of a one of the fashion industry’s key players, but it is also a celebration of colour, joy and creativity. With the overall mantra of ‘everyday is a new beginning’ – it simply oozes positivity. And who could say no to that? You can catch the exhibition until 20th March.
Find out more about Hello My Name is Paul Smith at The Lighthouse, opening times and tickets here!
Will you be saying hello to Paul Smith? What is your favourite way to spend an afternoon by yourself?