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The jacket: overview

The jacket is made in Italy from 100% woven camel hair (the animals are not harmed when the fibre is gathered) and has a canvassed construction, meaning it will hang well and mould to the wearer's shape

The jacket: details

This modern double-breasted design has peak lapels, streamlined jetted pockets and just two buttons visible when closed. All buttons are horn, and the buttons on the cuffs are functional rather than merely decorative. The jacket is fully lined with a polka dot pattern, a typical Paul Smith twist

The influences

The autumn/winter 2011 collection was inspired by the avant-garde musicians Mr Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart ("not paying particular attention to specific things, but more their randomness," Sir Paul explains), explored against the context of the early space missions. "Vintage mixed with luxury" is how Sir Paul sums up the look

The shirt

The shirt is also made in Italy, with careful stitching in place of any gluing or fusing. The material is 100% cotton and mother-of-pearl buttons have been used. The relatively small collar and fitted cut keep this shirt looking sharp and contemporary

Photography by Mr Michael Bodiam | Words by Mr Peter Henderson
"I ended up designing clothes that I wanted to wear myself and felt good in. Well-made, good quality, simple cut, interesting fabric, easy to wear. No nonsense clothing"
Sir Paul Smith

Sir Paul Smith hoped to become a racing cyclist, but in a twist of fate an accident ended the dream ("I went up to junior and then up to senior and then ran into a car," Sir Paul jokes) and the designer fell in with the local art school crowd while he was recovering. Cycling's loss turned out to be fashion's gain, as the young Mr Smith would go on to build one of the most commercially successful fashion brands, as well as bringing about a significant shift in attitudes towards men's style, with his use of colour and print, and enduring "classic with a twist" approach. Having moved in with Ms Pauline Denyer (now his wife) in 1967, Sir Paul opened a small shop in his native Nottingham, UK, selling clothes by cutting-edge brands such as Kenzo and Katherine Hamnett. Supported by Ms Denyer, who taught fashion part time, Sir Paul began designing his own clothes and selling them in the shop, too. The rest is history. By 1976 Paul Smith clothes were being shown in Paris, and by the late 1980s Sir Paul's approach of updating classic men's clothes with contemporary cuts and unexpected details, such as vibrantly coloured linings, had become a much-imitated fashion mainstay.

Today, Sir Paul's collections continue to demonstrate his love of classic English tailoring and eye for proportion and detail, combined with his genuine sense of humour and appreciation of the quirky and unexpected. Along the way, Sir Paul has amassed a rock-star following (Mr David Bowie and Mr Eric Clapton are fans), but, as the designer puts it, "We make suits for the head of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, and we make suits for Paul Weller. How diverse do you want it?" For someone whose collections have come to define a quintessentially British look, and whose work constantly references UK culture, it is a fitting anecdote that the first item Sir Paul ever sold was a handkerchief printed with the Union Jack flag.