Paul Smith is widely accepted to be one of the most affable people working in fashion, and also one of the most balanced. Ask anyone, and they’ll attest to the fact. He begins each day with a swim, cycles to work (the designer once dreamt of being a professional cyclist), has a proper break at lunch (none of that eating-at-your-desk malarkey) and has dinner with his wife, Pauline Denyer, in the evening. By his own admission, he’s a happy and positive person – something that is apparent in his designs, which often feature vibrant colours, floral prints and of course his signature multi-coloured stripes.
Smith’s S/S17 menswear collection was no exception to this. Models marched down his Paris Men’s Fashion Week catwalk to the sound of Bob Marley, smiling broadly as they showcased riotously colourful wares inspired by 1960s London – specifically the nightclubs the designer frequented in his youth, such as The Flamingo Club. A haunt for The Beatles, The Stones and Hendrix, this nightclub (which was located on Wardour Street, Soho) was at the “epicentre of the British jazz and r’n’b scene”, and was one of the first UK venues to introduce ska to a white audience, with performances by Jamaican-born musicians such as Count Suckle.
The Caribbean itself was also a key inspiration for this collection, hence the Bob Marley soundtrack and the Pan-African colour palette of red, gold and green. The region’s (and Smith’s) “don’t worry, be happy” ethos was palpable – in fact, the designer gave the models a shoulder massage on their way out, making sure that they felt relaxed. “Positivity. Happiness. Bright socks,” read Luke Leitch’s review for Vogue Runway, perfectly summating the show in four words.
But what is the secret to Paul Smith’s positivity? How is he able to be a world-class designer, at the top of his game, and managing all demands that come with that, while remaining a happy, healthy human being? Here, alongside images of the collection from Another Man S/S17, photographed by Dham Srifuengfung and styled by Mathew Stevenson-Wright, Smith shares five of his ultimate life tips.
1. Start your day with some exercise
“I’m a very early riser – normally around 4:30am – and I swim every day. It’s a great start to the day and although I’m not a great swimmer and don’t spend a very large amount of time in the pool, I find that it opens up the body and you get a good stretch. I’ll normally follow my ten lengths with an apple or a banana.”
2. Don’t take anything too seriously
“I’m blessed with being a happy and positive person and I try not to take anything too seriously. I think a positive outlook is very important for your health and so is having a good sense of humour. Lots of people in this industry disappear into an ivory tower, my wife Pauline has always made sure I keep my feet firmly on the ground.”
3. Maintain a healthy diet, but don’t be too strict about it
“I’m not a very fussy eater but I find I naturally avoid overeating. I try not to eat between meals and in the evening I make sure I have fish with three different vegetables. I do have a sweet tooth though and I think being too strict about these things is daft. Everything in moderation.”
4. Make sure you have some time off
“I work long days, travel a lot and am always spinning lots of different plates but in the summer I take a few weeks holiday and switch-off in my home in Tuscany. When I’m there I add into the exercise mix some cycling, which is one of my real passions, I had dreams of becoming a professional cyclist but a bad accident put an end to them. And a decent serving of sunshine certainly helps too.”
5. Keep everything in perspective
“Balance in every sense is absolutely vital to leading a happy, healthy life. My schedule is always packed but I take an hour off in the middle of the day to have lunch with my team. It’s never anything fancy but it’s a good opportunity to take a breath, chew your food and keep everything in perspective.”
Hair Jose Quijano at The Wall Group using ColorProof; Make-up Dele Olo; Set design Samuel Pidgen; Casting TM Casting; Models King at Nii Agency, Leroy at Amazing Faces, Lye at Supa; Styling assistant Julia Vojtovic; Set design assistant Nuha Mekki.
These images originally appear in Another Man S/S17.