Paul Smith and his bag o’ tricks

The secret of success? For Paul Smith it’s been a rubber chicken. Add to this a couple of dozen sets of red rubber lips and you have the “charm kit” that’s helped tailor the career of our opportunistic fashion hero.

Disrobing a bizarre installation he knocked up for Pentagram’s reception last week, Smith told of early visits to Japan, where, bereft of the local lingo, he used humour to break the ice. “Pull out a rubber chicken, and they’re with you,” he said. The same goes for a cuddly blue zebra, Suttons seedpacks and other fripperie on show at Pentagram.

Similar tricks, gleaned from a genial father, helped him blag his way into buying his first shop by persuading the vendor to stump up some of the dosh, and even deterred the awkward silences when question-time came at the Pentagram opening.

Pulling out a big black bag stuffed with Paul Smith goodies, he offered a prize for every question. The best question came last, from the spunky Mark Hurst of Bartle Bogle Hegarty. “Can I have a pair of underpants?” asked Hurst. “Sure,” said Smith, drawing the final pair from the bag.

Witness all the write moves from roadside hero

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