Paul Smith Hosts Snappy San Francisco Party

Yves Béhar, Susie Tompkins Buell and Derek Holbrook feted the opening of Paul Smith’s first San Francisco store.

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SAN FRANCISCO — Leave it to Sir Paul Smith to shake up the San Francisco social scene.

This story first appeared in the April 14, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Socialites, artists, rock musicians, interior designers and Silicon Valley techies packed a party at the British designer’s new boutique here this month to celebrate the opening of Smith’s first San Francisco store — his fourth in the U.S.

 At one point, Smith led the Apple Computer Inc. design team into the women’s fitting room for photos on the chaise longue — taken with iPhones. The day before at Apple, Smith gave a talk on finding design ideas, at the invitation of his friend, industrial design senior vice president Jonathan Ive.

Guests included Mike Dimkitch, lead guitarist for the Los Angeles band The Cult; San Francisco socials Tatiana Sorokko and Vandy Woods Boudreau; Esprit co-founder and Hillary Clinton pal Susie Tompkins Buell; antiques impresario Tod Donobedian; industrial designer Yves Béhar; Google engineer Orkut Büyükkökten and partner Derek Holbrook, whose hand-painted Paul Smith shoes were autographed by the designer at the party, and Levi Strauss & Co. director of global innovations Eddie Curran.

“I love my shops,” Smith said before the party as he fiddled with a misbehaving “Flying Scotsman” cuckoo clock that’s part of a red wall of art, photos and objects, like “Paul’s note to self” to “Stop making sense. Logic is predictable. Think differently.”

Near the wall is a stack of Andy Warhol-designed album covers and a bundle of House & Garden magazines from 1987, the year Smith opened his first U.S. store, on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

Contrasts continue throughout the 4,000-square-foot store, from its Fifties orange-and-gray exterior to the suit room’s paneling taken from a 19th-century bank and the white-cubbyhole women’s accessory display Smith designed using Le Corbusier proportions.

The store, which is near Union Square and has entrances on Geary Street and Maiden Lane, also sells Smith’s collection of men’s and women’s apparel and footwear. Smith said boutique sales worldwide are up 7 percent from a year ago, and e-commerce sales have jumped 136 percent.


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