Irreverence is the key to success

From humble beginnings in Nottingham 25 years ago, clothes designer Paul Smith (above) has developed into one of the brightest stars in the retail firmament, with a worldwide business that has an annual turnover of pounds 142m. Also a consultant to the Department of Culture, Smith continues to produce the innovative ideas that have kept him at the forefront of the fashion world, and in demand from industry and advertisers. With his latest scheme soon to hit London - a shop in a Notting Hill townhouse that will be like visiting someone's home - Smith offers an illustrated guide to how to make yourself stand out in the crowd, and makes a plea to anyone who has ever thought of selling anything - be different (he is).

Stuck on lipstick

This is just a beautiful magazine cover, from 1959. You contrast it with magazine covers today, when they are dictated by links to advertisers, or make-up manufacturers. Again, commercial considerations are uppermost. I've a passion for trying to get companies to invest in new ideas, even if it means writing off money on projects that might not end up working. If you make pounds 10m a year why not put half a million aside to create a magazine made of fabric, for example?

Use your eyes

Giorgio Armani asks, "What's happened to originality?" Everything is now linked to commerce and the bottom line. It's killing freedom. The British fashion industry has matured tremendously in the last few years, but the bulk of our designers earn their money abroad; we've still got a long way to go. The message above is one I use to emphasise the need for originality. You can't walk round looking at the ground all the time.

Streets ahead

I take my camera everywhere. I took this picture in Florence. There were these two boys at the side of the street selling sunglasses. One had a cardboard box folded up, and then he opened it out and turned it into a table. He had an instant shop. Whatever you may think of people selling like this, it cut through all the reeds in a city where we were in the midst of hundreds of shops. It was brilliant and fascinating.

On the rack

I refer to this as the disease of copying. How on earth do you choose from so many titles that look so similar? We've got too much product, and there's a lot of boring stuff going on - not just in clothes and design but in magazines, newspapers and TV. A partly-clothed girl is what you have to have to sell a magazine now. If you took the name off the top of magazine, it would be difficult to differentiate one from another.

Pretty in pink

This is about taking something familiar and changing it with colour. It could be a tweed jacket - clothing you expect to find in country colours, and producing them in red or blue. And not just clothes. Why does the FT stand out? Why don't more papers print on coloured paper? It'll pass on the information equally well, and it will also make your product quirky. You'd have something quite special on your hands. I'd like to see a newspaper in pale blue.

Donkey work

This picture as taken in Egypt, and I used it for the front of the invitation card to one of my shows. People get so much junk mail nowadays that you have to produce an image that they're going to notice, that makes you smile or is a bit cute. It's got more chance of being pinned on to a fashion editor's wall or remembered than a graphic design has. It's just something that makes you think, that's nice, that's special. Irreverence is the key to success these days.

Stork of the town

This is Berwick Street market in Soho. I walked down there the other day looking at all the vegetable stalls, seeing how one tries to make its produce look more appealing than another's. You'd get one very neat stall and one very untidy stall. There were tomatoes without their vines, and tomatoes with vines. And then I came across this stall where the chap selling had cut a zig-zag into a melon and placed a tomato in it. To me that showed imagination and lateral thinking - that there's always a better, more individual way to do things.

News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Sport
world cup 2014A history of the third-place play-offs
News
Tommy Ramone performing at The Old Waldorf Nightclub in 1978 in San Francisco, California.
peopleDrummer Tommy was last surviving member of seminal band
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Sport
The Mexico chief finally lets rip as his emotions get the better of him
world cup 2014
Voices
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
Life and Style
Several male celebrities have confessed to being on a diet, including, from left to right, Hugh Grant, Benedict Cumberbatch and Ryan Reynolds
...and the weight loss industry is rubbing its hands in glee
News
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
'Eminem's recovery from substance abuse has made him a more potent performer, with physical charisma and energy he never had before'
arts + entsReview: Wembley Stadium ***
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

    £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

    C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

    C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

    £60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

    Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

    £75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

    Day In a Page

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

    Why did we stop eating whelks?

    Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice