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Paul Smith Captures 48 Hours in Los Angeles — in Polaroids

By Alice Newell-Hanson

 
Paul Smith
 

The fashion designer Paul Smith is synonymous with colour. His vibrant combinations of hot pink, chartreuse and cornflower blue, tangerine, violet and coffee are instantly recognisable, and — like the work of another colour enthusiast, David Hockney, whose new show of portraiture is now open at LACMA — they are unmistakably British. Smith, who presented his first men’s wear collection in London in 1976, now designs both men’s and women’s collections, filling his 50 eclectically designed stores around the world with off-kilter takes on classic English tailoring. Recently, he took a trip to Los Angeles to host a dinner with his friend the actor Gary Oldman. We gave Smith a Polaroid camera and asked him to document his weekend for T. The photographs he took, below, are just as saturated with colour as you’d expect from the designer who painted his Melrose Avenue store shocking pink.

Paul Smith
 

“I’ve been a fan of the Memphis Group for a long time and so was delighted to meet one of the founding members, Peter Shire, during my visit to Los Angeles. I bumped into Peter in my shop on Melrose Avenue and he invited me to visit his exhibition in the amazing Kayne Griffin Corcoran gallery for a personal tour. It’s such a bright and optimistic show!”

Paul Smith
 

“I was privileged enough to be shown around the mind-blowing Palace Costume space by its owner and founder Melody Barnett. It’s impossible to put into words the scale of Melody’s clothing collection, which is one of the most important reference points and resources for the film industry’s leading costume designers.”

Paul Smith
 

“This is a photo of Melody herself in one of the many rooms where she stores her clothing collection. This particular room doubles as a bedroom for her sister when she visits!”

Paul Smith
 

 “Many years ago, when I was sitting in my studio on a grey London day designing my shop in Los Angeles, I was very conscious that it needed to stand out. Melrose Avenue is miles and miles long — the shop is number 8221! — and everyone in the city drives, so I needed something eye-catching. I came up with this Luis Barragán-inspired bright pink cube. I think you’ll agree, it’s certainly eye-catching!”

Paul Smith
 

“A local friend, Mark Mahoney, runs a tattoo parlour called Shamrock Social Club on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood. Mark is such a talented artist and there’s a brilliant atmosphere in Shamrock. It’s so friendly and down-to-earth, exactly how I hope people feel my shops are!”

Paul Smith
 

“Over the last few years, the bright pink wall of my Melrose Avenue shop has turned into a social media phenomenon. I think it’s the combination of the pink wall and the amazing sunshine LA gets all day. Hundreds of people come every week to take their photo in front of it. It’s apparently one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city!”

Paul Smith
 

“I’ve visited most corners of the globe over the years, but there are a few places I love coming back to. I always enjoy staying at the Chateau Marmont — it’s got such character. On this visit, I hosted a dinner with my mate Gary Oldman in the penthouse of the hotel to celebrate his recent Oscar win. I love the kitchens in all of the rooms, but I didn’t do any of the cooking for the dinner!”

Paul Smith
 

“In my shop in Notting Hill, London, I have a bespoke tailor who hand-makes suits to order. It’s a very special service and something that we offer to international customers, with the tailors traveling to Paris, New York and Los Angeles throughout the year. During my visit, I had an appointment with the actor Dan Stevens, who wears a lot of my clothes on the red carpet. We’re making a very special suit for Dan and so we measured him up whilst in town!”

Paul Smith
 

“I was only in the city for 48 hours and had to cram a lot in, but I did find time to whizz up into the hills and take a look out over the city.”

Paul Smith
 

“David Hockney is a true master of colour. It was so wonderful to be able to see his new exhibition at LACMA against the backdrop of a bright blue sky! A true Hockney palette!”