From the moment you approach Paul Smith's just-opened store on Grant and Geary, the window display beckons you to come in and explore the Londoner's wonderfully quirky world. Inside, it’s all about the details. Vintage typewriters sit beside shoes, framed ski goggles and branches adorn the walls, rare books line bookshelves and tables and the blazers are lined with flowers. We were lucky enough to get a tour of his new Union Square boutique from the man himself, and here’s what he had to say about San Francisco, spring fashion and the importance of individuality:
First things first, where did you have dinner last night?
Zuni Café. I wanted to have the roast chicken because everyone talks about it (ed's note: it happens to be on our 100 Things You Must Eat Before You Die list) but it was late when we arrived, it takes an hour and I was still on London time, so I got the anchovies and halibut (which he tells us were both delicious). The waiter was wearing a Paul Smith tie and was talking to me about my new shop, so I invited him to my opening party.
How can Paul Smith fit into San Francisco style?
Actually, I kind of hope it’s the other way around. I hope that everyone from the student to the wealthy person can find my things very wearable. I feel that especially lately if you’re going to spend money, you want to find unique pieces that are not widely available. The whole point of my shops is individuality.
Where did you find inspiration for your Spring 09 Women’s Collection?
I went to The Lure of the East: British Orientalist Painting art exhibit in London and that’s really where it all began. The paintings of women in harems who wore lots and lots of buttons inspired my button detailing for spring. I’ve also done a lot of vintage printing this season. I wanted to make the clothes appear older by using washed out floral prints, but always with interesting details.
How did you decide how to decorate your San Francisco boutique?
Each of my shops has its own character. I really want people to enjoy browsing despite age or status, whether you buy something or not. I like to encourage people to look around and hang out. You could spend hours just looking at all the books!
Should we assume you’re wearing all Paul Smith?
Yes! From my knickers to my watch to my socks. (whispers, smiling) I get it for free. I just go in and take things and they can’t stop me!
What’s an economical look for Spring that you’re fond of?
I used a lot of scarves in my runway show as headdresses and belts. It’s a great way to be budget-friendly and completely change an outfit.
What are some of your favorite stores to visit when you come to SF?
de Vera, which is right here in Maiden Lane. I’ve gotten lots of things there over the years because there’s one in Manhattan as well. I always find great things for my wife when I go. There’s also a great vinyl shop (101 Music) in North Beach, and I love going to Amoeba on Haight.