SMITH ON THE SMALL SCREEN: The BBC’s “Culture Show” gets up close with Sir Paul Smith — and his myriad sources of inspiration — in a TV program that airs Friday and Saturday on BBC World News. The show comes on the heels of the opening of an exhibition focusing on Smith and his work at London’s Design Museum.
In the show, the BBC’s creative director Alan Yentob quizzes Smith about how he’s built his $650 million global business while still hanging onto the playfulness that’s such a big part of his brand. “I think I’m between Savile Row and Mr. Bean, that completely sums it up,” says Smith, referring to the goofy character created by Rowan Atkinson. By way of demonstration, Smith turns to the camera to play a plastic device that simulates applause, just one of the many quirky trinkets piled into his curiosity shop of an office.
The designer also discusses his early ambitions to be a professional cyclist — a career cut short by an accident that left him in the hospital for three months — and how meeting his wife Pauline Denyer set him on the path to design. “She’s totally responsible for me being here talking to you,” says Smith. “She taught me about the importance of quality, the way clothes are built, the way clothes are made.”
The BBC also seeks to demonstrate that Smith was ahead of his time with regard to his in-store merchandising by, for example, stocking Filofaxes and Dyson vacuum cleaners when they were both novelties.
The interviews with Yentob are spliced with footage of Smith shooting one of his ad campaigns, hosting a book signing, and surveying his exhibition, “Hello My Name is Paul Smith,” at the Design Museum.
Yentob says Smith hasn’t lost his “childlike enthusiasm” for his métier. “Every day [I’m having fun], every day is a new beginning,” says the designer.