Paul Smith – Postcards from London
01 January 2020
Paul Smith – Postcards from London
In the first of the Postcards from film series, Paul invites you to explore the streets of London as he shares his personal postcards from a city that has been the bedrock of his career.
Paul has been travelling to London since he was 18. “It’s one of those cities that you plug in to and get lots of energy from,” he says. This energy has fuelled much of his career and London has been central to Paul Smith’s rise from a British brand to an international business with shops on six continents.
In this short film, Paul invites you to experience London with him, as he visits his favourite museums and galleries, catches up with artist friends and muses on what makes the city so special.
This is different to any city guide you’ve seen before. This is the first in a series of Postcards from Paul Smith.
The Delaunay 55 Aldwych, Holborn, WC2B 4BB
Paul’s day often begins at The Delaunay – after his 5am swim, of course. A short walk from his London head office and close to the theatre district of Drury Lane, this traditional Viennese brassiere is the ideal place to enjoy a perfectly made cappuccino and croissant before work, or to while away an hour or more reading the newspaper.
Sir John Soane’s Museum 3 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, Holborn, WC2A 3BP
It has been suggested, more than once, that Paul’s London office is the modern equivalent of Sir John Soane’s Museum. Paul is quick to humbly rebuff this, but the fact that both men share a fascination with architecture, art and design that cannot be denied.
Established in 1837 to preserve the legacy of architect and collector, John Soane, the museum is an eclectic collection of art and objects from around the world including everything from neoclassical statues to Egyptian sarcophagi.
It’s small in size but big in intrigue. “If you’re interested in any form of design”, says Paul, “you should go there and get your design fix”.
Royal Academy of Arts Burlington House, Piccadilly, W1J 0BD
London’s range of prestigious museums and galleries provide Paul with ample opportunities for inspiration. But while Paul has his favourites, he has a special connection to the Royal Academy of Arts.
“It’s right in the middle of London,” says Paul, “and what’s so unique about it is that it still has a school of art in the basement.” As well as hosting grandstand exhibitions from leading artists – Antony Gormley’s sculptures are currently installed – the Royal Academy is a working art school with a reputation for fostering talent.
Paul has been an active patron of the arts since the mid-90s. His wife, Pauline, attended the Slade School of Fine Art as a mature student at that time, which led Paul to become more involved. He established the Paul Smith scholarship in 1994, which later transferred to the RA Schools, where it runs to this day.
During the filming of this series, Paul dropped in to the RA Schools to visit Luke Samuel, the current recipient of his scholarship, to talk art and take a tour of his studio.
Also featured in the film is James Lloyd, the first recipient of the Paul Smith Scholarship. By a quirk of fate, after finishing the scholarship, James was commissioned to paint Paul’s portrait in 1997, as part of the prize for winning BP Portrait Award that year. You can see that portrait on display today in the National Portrait Gallery.
Browse & Darby 19 Cork St, Mayfair, W1S 3LP
Sticking with the art theme, Paul is also keen to keep things local. Found at the foot of Cork Street, less than five minutes from No. 9 Albemarle Street, Browse & Darby is a small artisan gallery with a specialist focus.
“What’s so wonderful about Browse & Darby is that they’ve been there years and years”, says Paul. At a time when others have left the street that was once famed for its large number of galleries, Browse & Darby have continued to do what they do best by fostering a loyal client base and supporting artists who embody a style that they believe in.
Paul Smith No. 9 Albemarle Street 9 Albemarle St, Mayfair, W1S 4BL
Visit the London flagship shop on a Saturday and you’ve got a good chance of seeing Paul behind the counter, serving customers. It’s still what he loves to do best.
Located in the heart of Mayfair, No. 9 Albemarle Street is a magnet for a certain kind of shopper. “It’s very satisfying to know that a lot of our customers are in very creative, exciting jobs”, says Paul. Architects from around the world are drawn to the shop’s unique cast iron façade, and the basement space below the shop has its own appeal as it serves as a gallery, showroom and sometimes studio for artists from many different disciplines – from John Booth to David Bailey.
No. 9 Albemarle Street began life as a furniture shop and it’s maintained that individuality. Furniture sits alongside original artwork, unusual objects and Paul Smith products. “It makes our shop very interesting and different to other shops around the world”, says Paul.
“I’ve always thought it was really odd to think that a shop would just have a certain sort of clothes,” Paul continues, “because I think as human beings, hopefully, we’re a bit more special than that.”
Click here to view the film
Special thanks to all the locations and people featured in this film.
Directed by Jim Pilling, produced by Vidsett
16, The Royal Arcade
Tel: 0203 205 1135