‘Paul has the talent to not pick the right person for the job. He likes to challenge you.’ These are the words of architect Sophie Hicks, in conversation with Alan Aboud and director Deyan Sudjic, at the Design Museum in London last week. The subject of discussion: working with Paul Smithand his fashion label. Mr. Smith, you will be delighted to hear, will take the stage at this year’s WDCD conference in Amsterdam.

On show since November last year, the exhibition ‘Hello, My Name is Paul Smith’ at the Design Museum offers an overview of the world of designer Paul Smith. Starting from a tiny 3-x-3-m shop in Nottingham, he has developed his label into a global fashion empire based on his world of creation, inspiration, madness and beauty. What was most remarkable about the conversation was the enthusiasm and passion that Hicks and Aboud still retain for Paul Smith and his company after all these years.

Hicks, who spent 18 years designing stores for Paul Smith, told of their friendship and revealed how Paul flirted with her into doing the job. After some cosy breakfast meetings, Sophie asked Paul what it actually was he wanted from her. He answered: ‘They want me to do a women’s shop and I don’t understand women.’ She told stories about the various shops she designed with the aim of making each space reflect the character of its locale. They range from the Westbourne House, which is a shop in a house, to a hunting lodge with a collection of genuine hunting trophies.

Alan Aboud has been associated with Paul Smith for 25 years as designer and creative director, working on photography, advertising, packaging, film and more. He spoke of the many existing lines that thread through the company. Working on everything from suits and jeans to sunglasses and shoes, Smith creates four men’s collections and three women’s collections at a time. At times, Aboud still wonders why he was ever picked for the job in the first place, since he originally was trained as typographic designer.

Due to its success, the exhibition will run until 22 June 2014. So you have three more months to immerse yourself in the creative world and stories of this fashion designer. And the real aficionados must of course come and hear him speak at this year’s WDCD conference.

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