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Friday, 30 November 2012 17:28

The Gentleman Designer

One of the few London-based fashion icons to combine commercial success with design credibility, Sir Paul Smith exudes pure English charm — right down to his scuffed brogues and mismatched socks.

Sir Paul Smith

Sir Paul Smith

On a recent visit to Singapore to officiate the opening of the Paul Smith boutique in Mandarin Gallery, Sir Paul Smith was as charming as his label is colourful and enduring. The 66-year-old designer greeted me with boyish bounce, kindly proposing a plush sofa or another easy chair as suitable seats for me in a large suite at the Mandarin Hotel. He waved his long arms, proferring fruit and chocolate; he fluffed up a huge damask pillow; he offered tea. And finally he stretched himself out on a chaise longue and proposed having a chat lying down. The veteran designer’s disarming warmth instantly eased away any awkwardness before our interview began.

You have a great presence on the internet: Twitter, Website and Blog. What are your thoughts about the internet and its effects on fashion?

E-commerce has really exploded. I’m disappointed that people don’t want to go into shops and make it a social thing with your friends, your wife or girlfriend, or mum, and have a coffee. It’s the whole experience of going shopping. That’s sad to me. Personally, I think that e-commerce will level out. Of course it’s wonderful for things like books or CDs, because you don’t have to try them on, or maybe eBay, where you’re looking for an old camera. I understand it, but I think it’s very much about it existing but balanced with the personal experience.


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