9.08.2010

Vêtements 1970

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Pauline Denyer and Paul Smith


On 9 October 1970, armed with £600 savings, Paul Smith opened his very first shop. Called Vêtement (the French word for clothing) and located a 6 Byard Lane, down a tiny back alley in the centre of Nottingham. The weekly rent was just 50p.
The 12-foot square room that is featured in the exhibition gives an idea of the size of the premises (compact to say the least) and various artefacts- the original till with the first day's takings, Pauline's diary, and a selection of photographs- build up an impression of the place. The bottle of Eau Sauvage eau de toilet in the glass cabinet is a little more obscure: this was to disguise the smell of Paul's Afghan hound Homer, which tended to overpower the windowless room.
Vêtement was originally open only on Fridays and Saturdays; Smith having to work during the week selling fabrics, making up suits for wholesalers and window dressing, and later as a stylist and consultant, to bring in some more steady money. But soon the shop was buzzing. It was the only outlet outside London which stocked Margaret Howell and Kenzo, and after a while, slowly but surely, Pauline and Paul began introducing their own designs on the racks.

From Paul Smith: True Brit (1998) an exhibit in Tokyo, Kobe, and Fukuoka, winter 1998.

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