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paul smith q&a

British designer Sir Paul Smith is best known for his menswear collections and his iconic multi-stripe motif, which usually appears in his designs (even if just on the label). His stylish new outlet in Bree Street, Cape Town, is every bit a fitting space to showcase specially selected collections. We chatted to him about the new store, Cape Town and more. With regards to the new Paul Smith store in Cape Town, what to you is the significance of it being housed in a historical building in an especially emerging part of the city? I am delighted to have the new shop in a historical building and especially in this area of town because, as you may know, we always choose places for our shops that have a lot of character as, unlike many other fashion brands, we want all our shops around the world to look different from each other. My shops therefore vary from a bright pink box on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles to a house built in 1730 for the one in my home town of Nottingham. We always look for interesting locations and interesting buildings so I am absolutely delighted with my new shop in Cape Town. Have you visited Cape Town, and if so, what is your impression of the city? What has struck you most about your visits here? I have visited Cape Town and I was very impressed by many of the shops and especially the ones for interior design and home decoration. What is your favourite aspect of the new Cape Town store, since we understand that you had a hand in its design? What I like about that new shop is mixing modern graphics in a traditional historical building. Paul Smith has been described for many years as 'classic with a twist', and here the idea is that it is a beautiful old building but with modern graphics on the outside and on the inside, so it follows the true path of Paul Smith. Can you tell us more about the collection that is currently available here? The collections in the shop have been chosen to fit with Cape Town's spirit - very fashionable but casual and easy to wear. On the Paul Smith look book front, what’s hot for 2013? What can we look forward to here in Cape Town? The main thing really for 2013 is that men are a lot more comfortable with wearing colour and this is something that has been missing for quite a long time with the monochrome, navy blue, black and white looks, so the brave move forward is wearing colour, of course not necessarily the whole body covered in colour, but coloured trousers, coloured shirts. We do, for example, bright red suits that look amazing. On a personal note, how would you describe your own style? Any favourite designers you like to wear, or is it Paul Smith all the way? I normally wear Paul Smith because I don't really have time to shop elsewhere, and it is free! That's a pretty good reason! And of course I like what I do so I often wear a tailored suit or a tailored jacket with cotton trousers; I also like to wear chambray or denim shirts. What’s the most casual we’ll ever catch you? (Bearing in mind that Cape Town is very much a ‘dressed-down’ kind of city!) I have a home in Italy where I spend quite a lot of time in the summer, and there I always wear a polo shirt, cotton shorts, casual shoes, no socks. What’s the best advice you ever received? The best advice I have ever received is to 'never assume' which in fact has become the company motto, and what that means is to always double check things and that has really helped me enormously over the years and really helped me not to get into situations I am not happy with. What’s been the most successful item you’ve ever designed/ produced? It is difficult to select one item but we sell an enormous amount of suits; probably the most successful in terms of quantity though is our very colourful fun socks; in one of our shops just before Christmas they told me they sold 680 pairs in one week, so, I would say socks! Do you have a pet design hate? I don't really have a pet design hate but one of the things to do is probably dress as simple as you can and not try too hard. What country is producing impressive design right now? I think UK right now has a lot of good talents in design. They didn’t have enough exposure for a while but with London Women's Fashion Week and more recently London Men's Fashion Week we start to hear more about them. What one thing would you like to be remembered for? Just being a very down to earth person; very easy to get on with would be fine to me. Visit the new Paul Smith store, corner of 137 Bree and Wale Streets, Cape Town, 021-424-0354, Text: Raphaella Frame-Tolmie