Legendary British designer Sir Paul Smith paid a flying visit to Pitti Uomo in Florence last week for the launch of the new PS Paul Smith range. Now back at the helm as creative director, Smith spoke to Drapers about his octopus-inspired collection.
You’re back with the brand as creative director now, do you like having more control over the brand?
Yes, I’m back in. I got my job back. I tried to be a grown-up and set the future in place and then everyone said they wanted me back. It’s hard work but it’s wonderful. It’s also affected the sales – people have been much more positive about the collections. On the Paul Smith line we’ve seen some very large increases. It’s the trans-seasonal period for PS, from where it was before to here, and this is the first time the collection has been the way I wanted it – it takes a while to get your head around it.
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Tell us about the octopus motif
Have you ever looked at the definition of the word octopus in the dictionary? It says they’re pretty bright, and they’re creatures of many talents – like me! That’s how it came about, because in the office they’re always saying: “Paul, you’re like a bloody octopus”, having the ability to do about nine things at once – well, eight things. Every year in main line and PS we try to get some sort of main focus which then can turn into visual merchandising, windows, online … all the franchise shops can buy it, it can be anything – and this season it’s the octopus. I’ve always admired octopuses because they’re very clever.
I first invited to Pitti back in the 1990s and in January I was invited to do a presentation, so I thought I’d come back one more time to keep continuity and keep it in mind that we’re doing interesting things at the moment.
I like Pitti because it’s a large quantity of people who have individual shops often and it’s really nice that they can just find a belt maker or a shoe maker – and that’s what makes shops interesting. Frankly, most of the main streets around the world right now are so homogenised that sometimes you don’t know if you’re in Paris or Milan or New York, it’s the same brands – so I’m a big supporter of the individual shops. I love independent shops.
Q&A: Sir Paul Smith's PS from Pitti Uomo