When I think of Paul Smith I think of two things; socks and my uncle Shawn. Mainly because of a) Those trademark stripes b) The fact my uncle is fairly infatuated by him (which I can completely understand, but more on this later) and c) because from what I know, my uncle has more of his socks than is probably healthy (but has very cool feet, nonetheless). Saying that, I’d never really known all that much about Sir Paul Smith until now. Apart from striped socks, his quintessential Britishness and the fact that after seeing him talk, is the most charming 66 year old I’ve ever witnessed- I was a little in the dark to his absolute talent and admirable perspective.
The way Paul Smith views the world is simply refreshing. After displaying images in an on screen power point of coloured worldly architecture, a security guard in a vibrant blue suit (which we come to learn inspired pieces from his AW13 collection) and other day to day objects that often go ignored- he explained what he saw in them (often the obvious, which again, often goes ignored), that helped him created the designs we know and love- amazing really.
And he’s right. He touched on something I feel pretty strongly about; looking and seeing. In an age where most inspiration comes from Pinterest or Instagram (don’t get me wrong, my ‘Ways to Wear’ album has saved many a bad-outfit-day) it’s easy to think you’ve seen it all, well without actually seeing it. ‘Don’t look at screens all the time’, he explains- ‘go and experience things, it’s all there if you want it’. It’s almost exhilarating to be reminded of such basic principles, as he goes on to explain his main motivation being ‘a love of life. Every day is a new beginning. It’s about today and tomorrow- do it 100% or pack it in’.
As well as inspiring us all to shut our laptops, switch off our iPhones, and close off our emails (Paul doesn’t have a computer, and his wife Pauline, neither has a phone) he dipped into the topic of fashion inspiration. Starting at 14 in a clothes shop, and building up from there, Paul went on to talk about his brand (”every shop of mine is different, so people never know what to expect when they come in”), his style inspiration (”My missus. She knows her style, body and personality, and dresses accordingly”) and the importance of dressing for yourself, and not fashion.
Overall, I found the talk really inspiring, a metaphorical kick up the arse if you like. It’s not often I come away from something with such an urge to, ‘just do it’ and go out and ‘see’ things- but since the talk I’ve planned a trip to Cambridge, fought an urge to buy a film camera and bought a scrapbook (and glue, stickers, tape etc), so maybe it was really worthwhile. It was the first time I’ve attended the Vogue Festival, and after hearing mixed reviews last year (‘all style, no substance’) I came away pretty pleasantly surprised, and imagine if I’d have taken advantage of more of the things on offer (Vogue cover star makeovers with Vogue’s very own Fran Burns and a full makeover on the beauty counter) I could have loved it even mores. But for now, I must get on with my cuttings out and shut off this old Acer for the day, toodles!
For the talk, I was one of the Voucher Codes Most Wanted reporters- sounds profesh right?