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Paul Smith's introduction into fashion was completely accidental.
At the age of 16, with no career plans or qualifications, Paul Smith was propelled by his father into a menial job at the local clothing warehouse in his native Nottingham. However his real passion was sport and his ambition was to become a professional racing cyclist, until aged 17 years when cycling-mad Paul was in a terrible accident.
Six months in hospital followed and during this time Paul made some new friends. After leaving hospital he arranged to meet them again and by chance the meeting place was a local pub that was popular with the students from the local art college.
They talked of Mondrian, Warhol, Kokoshka, David Bailey and listened to the Rolling Stones, Miles Davis and much more. It was then Paul knew he wanted to be a part of this colourful world of ideas and excitement.
Within two years, Paul Smith was managing his first boutique in Nottingham and with the encouragement of his girlfriend Pauline Denyer (now wife) and a small amount of savings, opened a tiny shop in 1970. Paul started to take evening classes for tailoring and with the help of Pauline (an RCA fashion graduate), Paul was able to create what he wanted. By 1976 Paul showed his first menswear collection in Paris under the Paul Smith label.
Within 20 years of his introduction to fashion Paul Smith had established himself as the pre-eminent British designer. Paul Smith has the ability to anticipate, and even spark off trends not only fashion but in the wider context of popular culture. He manages to transmit a genuine sense of humour and mischief mixed with his love of tradition and the classics
Paul Smith’s signature style is “Classic with a twist”. If the phrase seems cliché today, it is worth remembering that Paul Smith is the man who invented it in the first place.
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