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A serious accident while riding his bike put paid to Paul Smith’s dream of becoming a professional racing cyclist. However this mishap propelled him to pursue a career involving his other passion: fashion. In 1970, Paul (born Nottingham, 1946) opened a store in his native city, selling his own early designs that reflected the types of clothing that he loved but was unable to buy anywhere else. Studying fashion design at evening classes, and working closely with his wife, Pauline Denyer, a graduate of the Royal College of Art, by 1976 he was showing a full range of menswear in Paris. Carving out a distinctive look that combined the best of traditional English attire often with unusual or witty prints, Paul blazed a trail throughout the late 70s. His progress continued into the 80s - when he put boxer shorts back on the fashion map – and beyond. The designer now has over 200 shops in Japan alone and offers a range of womenswear (launched 1994), a children’s collection, accessories, shoes, books, stationary, jewellery, fragrances, rugs, china, you name it. In 2001 Paul Smith was knighted and became Sir. Despite the mighty global success and breadth of his company, Paul’s hands-on involvement remains integral to its success; he gets up before dawn. If he wasn’t a designer, Paul thinks he would be a photographer. He’s obsessed with ‘to do’ lists, and continues to put his colourful stamp on the world.

paulsmith.co.uk

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