Paul Smith Visiting The Chelsea Flower Show
Follow Paul on his annual visit to the Chelsea Flower Show to discover how his love of gardening cross-pollinates his design work.
"The interesting thing about Paul Smith is that we’ve never not done a floral print", says Paul.
It’s 6.45am on a bright Monday morning and the famously early rising designer has come for his annual visit to the Chelsea Flower Show to see which gardens will provide inspiration for next season’s shirts, socks and scarves.
"Being a child of the 60s, we were the first men to wear floral shirts", says Paul.
"It became a way for people to show their character and at the same time I started using colour and pattern as my signature".
But if floral print has become such a perennial for Paul, how does he keep it feeling fresh?
"Just changing the fabric can say a lot", says Paul, "especially for women it will change the perception massively.
“You could put it on a silk or on a chiffon, which is soft. You could put it on a viscose, which has a lot of drape. If you put it on cotton it’s more rigid.”
“The other thing is scale. The shirt I’m wearing today is one of the smaller floral prints that we’ll do, but we can go even smaller than that. Or we can go very, very big and spaced out. The dresses that are in the shops right now have a navy blue base with very big daisy motifs on, for example.”
As Paul walks around gardens of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, the low hum of lawnmowers and pressure washers provides a busy soundtrack.
Gardeners and staff are putting the finishing touches to this year’s exhibits before the public pours through the gates in less than 24 hours.
And work is never far from Paul’s mind as he surveys the show. Where many people see flowers, Paul often sees prints and stripes.
"If you look at this garden", he says, pausing in front of an exhibit called 'Breaking Ground', “you’ve got lots of green, but then what I call ‘punctuation marks’ of purple. That could be a navy blue suit with a brightly coloured tie. That’s the way I see it with my eyes.”
Inside the Great Pavilion, where the finest show flowers are found, Paul is drawn to a vibrant begonia display.
Discover more at paulsmith.com