paul smith and rottingdean bazaar talk us through their incredible and very fun new book
It might be the best fashion collaboration book ever. And it is launching today at Dover Street Market.
Photography Hill & Aubrey. Styling Rottingdean Bazaar
Rottingdean Bazaar and Paul Smith are a match made in stripey, joyful, tongue-in-cheek, fashion heaven. It is the collaboration we didn’t know we needed, until a few weeks ago when a new book made by them dropped into our mailbox. It’s finally being released to the braying and eager public today at Photo London. So it’s no longer a secret we have to keep, and is now something we can shout about.
The Rottingdean Bazaar x Paul Smith book contains: the young actors of Nottingham’s Television Workshop dressed up in a fairytale fantasy; a fashion shoot in Globalls Miniature Golf Course at Brighton Marina; Rottingdean Bazaar dressed up in cardboard boxes decorated with Paul Smith accessories; poetry sourced from the Pop-In Poets of the Open Art Cafe in Rottingdean; a banana, some false teeth, an extension cable, and a toilet seat decked out in Paul’s iconic stripe; a variety of other people called Paul Smith (a street artist, a vicar, a weightlifter, a cabbie); and finally, some candles decorated with Paul and Rottingdean’s faces, slowly melting. Oh and there is a picture of Paul pretending to be a mannequin in his shop window. It is quite a lot and it is all amazing and it is launching today at Dover Street Market.
We sent Luke and James and Paul some emails because we wanted to know all about it…
How are you all? What are you up to today?
Rottingdean Bazaar: We are pretty well. We are teaching and also looking for some second-hand materials.
Paul Smith: I’m in Los Angeles, photographing pugs in front of pink walls, among other things!
Tell us about the book! It’s really amazing. How did you start working on it? What was the initial concept for it?
Paul Smith: I think it’s best if I let James and Luke do most of the talking, they’re the brains behind it all! And I’m so delighted with the job they’ve done.
Rottingdean Bazaar: The matchmaker for the project was Ben Reardon: we have worked with Ben going back four years and he got us all together. We have been working on it intermittently for about five months and looking back on it now it is a bit like a diary. The book collects together a series of separate but connected ideas.
What attracted you to working together?
Rottingdean Bazaar: We connect to the way Paul Smith plays with traditional ideas of shop-keeping, and equally his appreciation for funny objects beyond clothes.
Paul Smith: I think we have in common a sense of humour and not taking ourselves too seriously. I love the level of consideration that James and Luke give absolutely everything that they do.
Do you have a favourite thing in the book?
Rottingdean Bazaar: The front cover, the back cover and everything in between.
Paul Smith: Impossible to choose.
There’s a little bit of Brighton in the book, a bit of Nottingham. Both your identities feel quite tied up in your respective hometowns. What do you love and hate about them most? And about each other’s?
Rottingdean Bazaar: Our favourite thing about Nottingham was Charity Shop Sue, but now it’s also The Television Workshop. Rottingdean is officially part of Brighton. We like it here because it is on the edge of the country.
Paul Smith: The Television Workshop is a very special place and to have the opportunity to throw a spotlight on what they do is wonderful. I’m sure a lot of the kids featured in the photos will go on to do very brilliant things.
There’s a lot of big characters in the book — including yourselves — who were the biggest? What are the most fun stories from creating the book?
Rottingdean Bazaar: One of the main things we love about making images is meeting people. We really liked spending time with The Television Workshop and also meeting all the different Paul and Paula Smiths. Just like Pokémon they all had their own special attributes. One of the most exciting parts was going to see the book being printed in Cardiff: we had never been behind the scenes of a large scale printers before and it was fascinating.
Paul Smith: Well, James and Luke had me playing the part of a mannequin in my own shop window for my portrait, which I can’t say I’ve ever done before.
I am very into Paul Smith Street Artist, and the Reverend Paul Smith. If you could all be anything else — what would you be?
Rottingdean Bazaar: Full-time greeting card makers.
Paul Smith: Paul Smith, the photographer!
What about the candles with your faces on them? Are they going into production? In fact, I would like all of the Paul Smith interiors shoot!
Rottingdean Bazaar: Our friend Corinne Calder made them (@canyoucandle_it). She could make you some too.
Paul Smith: If I can find a spare hour or two, I’ll pop by and paint the front of your house, I’ve got some striped paint somewhere.
Let’s do some fun, quickfire questions. So what’s the worst piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Rottingdean Bazaar: Dry Clean Only.
Paul Smith: Hand Wash Only.
What's your dream dinner party line-up and what would you cook them?
Rottingdean Bazaar: The cast of Cats. Sardines.
Paul Smith: My wife Pauline, it happens most nights but I don’t often do the cooking. Some simple white fish with olive oil.
Do you keep a diary?
Rottingdean Bazaar: Not yet.
Paul Smith: Just a visual one – my Instagram. (@paulsmith)
Describe yourself in four words.
Rottingdean Bazaar: Beige, hairy, balding, hopeful.
Paul Smith: Legs of a teenager.
What would you look like if you were an alien?
Rottingdean Bazaar: Green, hairy, balding, hopeful
Paul Smith: Green, tall, thin and a little bit flabby.
If you could ask anyone a question, who would you ask, and what?
Rottingdean Bazaar: To Brighton & Hove Buses: Please may we have more frequent buses between Rottingdean and the bottom of Brighton Marina?
Paul Smith: To all the bullies out there: Have you always been a bully?! There are so many mean people in the world, on the roads, in the swimming pool. I just want to understand where all the anger comes from.
What would you most like to change about the world?
Rottingdean Bazaar: More buses between Rottingdean and Brighton Marina.
Paul Smith: Just get everybody to calm down and be friends.
Who do you most admire?
Rottingdean Bazaar: Almost everyone.
Paul Smith: The boss, Pauline.
What are you doing tomorrow?
Rottingdean Bazaar: Working!
Paul Smith: Flying back from Los Angeles for the launch of Paul Smith by Rottingdean Bazaar at Dover Street Market!