“I hope my presentation didn’t bore you,” 73-year-old fashion designer Paul Smith gently put his hand on my shoulder and said in a friendly voice. He came to South Korea to attend the opening ceremony on Wednesday of “Hello, My Name is Paul Smith,” an exhibition depicting his design career to be held until August 25 at Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) in Seoul.
“Most fashion exhibitions focus on showcasing garments or promoting brands,” he said. “However, this exhibition is about how the brand Paul Smith has grown over the years – it’s an exhibition about life, more so than about fashion.”
Smith showed up in a formal dark navy suit at the opening ceremony, but he didn’t forget to add an eye-catching detail with a pair of burgundy and navy striped socks. His personality to be polite yet witty and accessible was revealed naturally. He also emphasized humbleness at the exhibition.
“Did you see the replica of my first 3.3-square-meter store near the entrance of the exhibition? This exhibition delivers the story of a humble beginning and building my career with hard work. It’s about a proactive attitude towards life.”
An audience of the exhibition can witness the journey of Smith’s career from the early years when nobody recognized his talent to the more recent years. Highlights include a replica of his showroom, which was actually his hotel room because he couldn’t afford anything other than that, his notes written at the first store, and a video clip showing the process of creating a fashion show. Smith says it is a “very pragmatic exhibition to look into the detailed development process” of his career.
Some of the pieces featured at the exhibition are gifts from his fan who has sent Smith a variety of items, including a chair, a pair of skis, a skateboard, and a chicken-shaped toy, with just postal stamps, minus boxes, for 40 years.
“Patiently and slowly building something up – that’s what I still like even now when too many things happen too quickly. I hope young designers could find inspirations in the exhibition.”
Min Kim firstname.lastname@example.org