If you’re the apotheosis of British eccentricity – the veritable King of quirky twists – you can’t just open up any old store. Ask anyone who’s ever wandered into a Paul Smith store in any city of the world, and they’ll tell you: it’s not your average clothing boutique. Each of Smith’s retail spaces is a feat of design as eclectic and creative as the man himself, with art-lined walls and antique furniture; perhaps you might even stumble upon a vintage bicycle or signature-striped Mini Cooper. You never really know. All you can know is that you’re just as likely to walk out with some household ornament, artwork or unusual piece of reading material as you are to walk out with a velvet blazer or pair of to-die-for leather brogues.
And so, having decided that it was time for Australia to have such a retail space, the question for Paul Smith was inevitably where? The brand have now announced that ever-important location. And it’s a good one.
While Sydney often wins the ‘first store in Australia’ race, it’s Melbourne that will get the first dedicated Paul Smith store next month. If you’re a Melbourne native you may recognise the sketch above as the old Professional Chambers building on Collins Street. The architecture of the building is suitably eclectic: with its castellated parapet and tudor gothic windows, it’s one of Melbourne’s heritage-listed examples of Queen Anne architecture that stands out along the street’s so-called ‘Paris’ end.
We’re told that the store will stock “an extensive selection of clothing, jewellery, books, art, antiques and other found products” across the building’s two floors.
Design-wise, the mix sounds to be a visually-appealing span of multiple design movements and eras:
Upon entering, visitors are greeted with an airy, tiled front lobby which is decorated with hanging illustrations inspired by Saul Steinbeck. Elegant 1960’s American brass display cabinets stand at the perimeters to showcase accessories and objects.
Leading through a doorway from reception, the men’s mainline collection is presented in a room with a brightly painted fireplace, juxtaposed by traditional walnut furniture. Next door, womenswear hangs from a curvy brass rail running the width of the room with glass shelves highlighted by a timeless coral chandelier.
Upstairs, a 1920’s reclaimed mahogany parquet floor leads visitors through to the suit room, a grand space taking up two of the bay windows flanked by original fireplaces. Adjacent rooms, with European oak floorboards display casualwear in modern cabinetry with hand illustrations painted on to the walls.
The Paul Smith Melbourne store opens at 120 Collins Street, in April 2012.