WEDNESDAY 31 AUGUST 2011 • LUNCH WITH PAUL SMITH
Lunch with Paul Smith
I have just come back from holiday in France; ten days to be exact, staying in a magnificent hotel called Club de Cavalière. It is the only hotel with its ‘pieds dans l’eau’. It is just perfect for an exhausted man, an overworked person. You have the hotel, the open terrace restaurant and, a few feet below, a perfect beach to lie on, with the sea lapping the shore.
So, for ten days, my only exercise was to go from my room to the terrace, then a few steps to the beach, carrying a few of the books I have been longing to read for a whole year. And then back again!
The consequences of that indulgent routine can be immediately seen in the photos with this blog: 10 kg of additional weight, and a very relaxed RB.
This has caused me an immediate problem, because as soon as I got back I was due have lunch with one of my great heroes: Paul Smith, a great designer and a true visionary. I realised that none of my wardrobe quite fit me, including all my Paul Smith shirts and suits: they were just a tiny bit too tight. No matter how hard I tried, my shirt was not quite closing, so I had to stop and buy a new Paul Smith shirt on my way: I could not wear an Yves St Laurent shirt to meet him!
There was no agenda for our meeting, apart from the fact that he is a hugely inspirational man for whom I have enormous respect. He was perhaps the first designer to recognise that man is changing, and to bring feminine colours and touches to his men’s clothing, to really dress the new metrosexual man rather than the old striped suits of the traditional city boy. You will always find the most delightful little touches on Paul’s clothes – a little touch of colour on the underside of a collar, a contrasting buttonhole on a shirt, and little touch of femininity and fun! A scarlet lining for a sombre suit. And always, at all times, a beautiful cut and a fabulous finish.
So, for over fifteen years I wore one of his wonderful suits, until eventually my beloved Natalia had to dispose of it quietly because it was worn out.
He is a great man, who recognizes how female and male roles and personalities are changing – the woman is no longer simply the provider, and the man is no longer just the hunter gatherer. He has responded to these changes, and that men are more sensitive and this should be reflected in the way they dress.
Just for pleasure to enjoy each other’s company. He has been to Le Manoir and loves what we do. So we met, and we enjoyed each other’s company. I saw his headquarters in London, on five different floors, designing clothes, shoes, etc and I didn’t meet a single person who wasn’t supremely happy – just like at Le Manoir.
A few of his colleagues joined us for lunch. It was simple but perfect – the finest ingredients, beautifully presented. He brought a rather ‘dodgy’ bottle of wine to the table: from Switzerland, a cabernet sauvignon merlot which actually turned out to be rather nice... but then, Switzerland is not so far from my home in the Franche Comté!
Best to you all
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Raymond Blanc's new book, Kitchen Secrets, featuring recipes from Kitchen Secrets Series 1 & 2 and many more, was published by Bloomsbury on 14 February and is available to buy online from Amazon, from Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, Brasserie Blanc, Maison Blanc, and from online and retail bookstores.
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