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Exhibit will offer look at Paul Smith’s rise to fashion star

Apr 16,2019
British designer Sir Paul Smith introduces his upcoming show at the Dongdaemun Design Plaza, central Seoul, while meeting with local press last week. [GIC CLOUD]

Sir Paul Smith, known for his iconic striped socks and shirts, is a highly successful British designer whose fashion empire spans 70 countries.

Smith’s career, however, started from very humble beginnings. Born in 1946, Smith dropped out of school at 15 to work for a clothing warehouse in his hometown of Nottingham, Britain.

His first store, which opened in 1970, was a tiny space of 9 square meters (97 square feet). It was only open on Fridays and Saturdays because Smith worked another job the rest of the week. When he attended Paris Fashion Week in 1976, but lacked the money to present his collection on the runway, he brought a suitcase full of clothes along with him and transformed his hotel room into a makeshift showroom, inviting buyers up to take a look at his designs.

At an exhibition coming to Seoul’s Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) this June, visitors will get a look at the designer’s journey from obscurity to stardom.

Reproductions of Smith’s first 1970 store, the Paris hotel room where he showed off his designs, plus his current studio and selected pieces from collections over the years are just some of the things that will make “Hello, My Name is Paul Smith,” “an honest exhibition,” as Smith calls it.

“Many fashion exhibitions are retrospective shows - it means you have clothes from across the period of time the designer has been working,” said Smith, who came to Korea last Monday to introduce his upcoming show at the DDP in central Seoul.

“With the Paul Smith exhibition, it’s more of an honest exhibition, showing the process of how I work. It’s also especially encouraging for young designers to show that from small beginnings you can make big success.”

Seoul is the 11th city hosting the inspirational show after it first opened at London’s Design Museum in 2013.

“One of the most exciting things is that it’s attracted many, many young people, teenagers and university students, because it’s a very interesting, how-to-become-a-designer exhibition,” Smith added. “Most designers would not reveal how they work or how they get inspiration. But here it shows how we make stripe patterns, how we use vintage fabric books as inspiration and how we might have books about art or architecture which can also be inspiring.”

“Hello, My Name is Paul Smith” will open on June 6 and run through Aug. 25 at the DDP. The show is co-hosted by the Seoul Design Foundation and London’s Design Museum. Tickets are now available on Interpark.

BY KIM EUN-JIN [kim.eunjin1@joongang.co.kr]