Today’s recipient needs little introduction. Most of you will have instantly recognised the image above and will have, at one point or another, held a bag or a gift box adorned by this iconic pinstriped barcode with its trademark rainbow of multifarious colours that is universally associated with the signature logo of …

Paul Smith‘s illustrious career and exceptional impact on the world of fashion and retail is the subject of a much-anticipated exhibition this winter
at the brilliant Design Museum in London.

“Hello, my name is Paul Smith” is a major retrospective opening on Friday until March 9, 2014 that will give a comprehensive insight into the five decades of the British designer and retailer’s world, influences, achievements and working methods.

Due to the huge popularity and influence of the designer (his empire is represented in 72 countries), the exhibition is likely to appeal to a broad audience and break visitor figure records – and even the Design Museum’s own records as it already celebrated the designer in 2001 with its ‘True Brit” exhibition.

The rich visual experience curated by Donna Loveday (she of the museum’s hugely successful Christian Louboutin show last year) will take the shape of a long corridor and will chart the designer, retailer and businessman’s career throughout various media (music, photographs, artifacts, projections, films, soundbites) and approaches such as these:

a display of Sir Paul’ Smith’s daring sartorial creations from collections selected by the designer himself dating back to his first show in Paris in 1976 up to today
(the company shows an impressive fourteen different collections every year), personal archives, hand-drawn sketches and other inspirational elements that make Paul Smith’s mind tick and creativity flow, a reconstruction of Smith’s first humble 1970 shop in Nottingham famously measuring three metres square, a makeshift version of his current studio and a room dedicated to the paraphernalia he’s received from his adoring fans throughout the years, most probably from Japan where his fan base is huge.

Another area will also be devoted to his architect wife Pauline whom has had a huge influence on his work, another one will showcase the unique design behind each of his stores accompanied by selection of jewellery, books, artworks, antiques, objets and curiosités that typically complement the clothes, and of course his great, whimsical collaborations ranging from cars (Rover’s Mini), cameras (Leica) and rugs (The Rug Company) to water bottles (Evian) and bicycles (Rapha) – Smith aspired to a be a professional cyclist until a road accident crushed his dreams when he was fifteen – and a special feature giving the visitors a glimpse into the brand’s future projects.

From his impeccably smart and tailored menswear and womenswear, his inventive approach to fabric, colour and pattern to his principles of traditional craftsmanship of tailoring and techniques with a contemporary edge, and his ‘English eccentric’ twist and Brit-wit style,  A-Gent of Style has been a huge admirer of Sir Paul Smith and looks forward to entering this world of “creation, inspiration, collaboration, wit and beauty” that epitomises the man behind one of the most quintessential British labels and leading fashion brands in the world.

Paul Smith stores – interiors and exteriors

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Paul Smith Spring/Summer 2014 collection

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Paul Smith objets and collaborations

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A Channel 4 interview

A BBC interview

During the run of the exhibition, the Design Museum will be hosting a series of exciting events such as Paul Smith Instagram Takeover, Live Twitter Q&A with Paul Smith and Sophie Hicks on Designing for Paul Smith.

A book “Hello, My Name is Paul Smith” published by Rizzoli will be published to coincide with the exhibition




“I would describe the look of the apartment as chiaroscuro, with rich browns and gold accents”
– Giancarlo Giammetti –

An apartment in Rome, a villa in Cetona, Chalet Gifferhorn in Gstaad
and Château de Wideville outside Paris.

Since 2010, fashion mogul Giancarlo Giammetti has had the luxury to add a penthouse in New York to the roster of exclusive homes he shares with his longtime business and life partner Valentino Garavani, simply known as Valentino, the illustrious Italian fashion designer. Giammetti bought the sleek Manhattan eyrie for $18.5 million a couple of years after he retired from the company and enlisted the gifted French interior designer Jacques Grange to decorate it.

Valentino and Giancarlo

Valentino and Giancarlo

A-Gent of Style is completely smitten with the decor and palette of Giammetti’s supremely chic and masculine abode. The result is a much more sedate and simpler affair than, for instance, his Cetona villa which was Renzo Mongiardino’s final project in the 1980s, saturated with kaleidoscopic pattern combinations
 and trompe-l-oeil. Which is not to say the penthouse is mundane and dull.
On the contrary, it exudes warmth, refinement and glamour. The floor-to-ceiling glass walls fill the apartment with an abundance of light and offer spectacular, panoramic vistas of Manhattan and Long Island. The indoor views of the museum-quality paintings by Picasso, David Hockney, Cy Twombly, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Richard Prince are rather impressive too.

Giammetti with a Richard Prince paiting behind him, looks out of the window, surrounded by layouts of his memoirs Private: Giancarlo Giammetti

Giammetti, in front of a Richard Prince ‘The Nurse’ painting, looks out of the window, surrounded by layouts of his newly-published memoirs ‘Private: Giancarlo Giammetti’

“I love rooms with a darker feeling,” Giammetti says. “New York is a city of light and views, but I wanted a compromise between that openness and my love of warmer, darker tones. I would describe the look of the apartment as chiaroscuro, with rich browns and gold accents”. The trained architect from the Università di Architettura La Sapienza in Rome who dropped out to join Valentino in business then adds: “I love lofty rooms and big open spaces where entertaining is easier and where art is very important. However, I do not build useless walls to gain space for art. I don’t want my house to look like a gallery with white walls and great lights.”

Giammetti invited Architectural Digest to have a peek at his abode which was published in its current December issue, perhaps as Christmas gift to its readers.

The photo shoot coincides with the publication by Assouline of
 Private: Giancarlo Giammetti, a photographic memoir of Giammetti’s life with a selection of more than 50,000 photographs, many taken by Giammetti himself, that the Italian fashionista has amassed over the years and that chronicles his glamourous, jet-setting social whirl with Valentino amongst the stars, models, artists and socialites of the moment.

If like A-Gent of Style, you recently drooled over the movie La Grande Bellezza (The Great Beauty) and particularly ‘those’ two sensational parties, you will no doubt relish every single page of the book.

Giancarlo at his book launch, Assouline bookshop, Claridges, October 2013

Giancarlo at his book launch, Assouline bookshop, Claridge’s, October 2013

But for now, let’s study, analyse and dissect!

The brown polished parquet covering most of the floor surfaces is the perfect neutral foil for the stunning structural columns and some of the walls sheathed in Indian mica which adds an enticing touch of old Hollywood glamour thanks to its shimmery hues of charcoal and brass. The mid-20th C Serge Roche-looking table is faceted in mirrors and the two chairs are by Giacometti. Bronze and glass Crittall doors lead to the kitchen on the right-hand side of the hallway.

An imposing gilt-bronze candelabra circa-1940 in the form of a tree towers near a book-shaped sculpture by Anselm Kiefer.

 In the bright living room, atop a rug by Beauvais Carpets, both armchairs, upholstered in a tiger-stripe fabric by Le Manach, and ottomans were designed by Grange himself; the focal painting is by Richard Prince, the vintage cocktail table is by Philip and Kelvin LaVerne, the vintage floor lamps are by Karl Springer from Liz O’Brien and the gilt-bronze crocodile chair is by Claude Lalanne. On the right, a circa-1800 Swedish gilt-wood armchair from H. M. Luther stands next to a table designed by Nick Allen. The sculpture is by Alexander Calder.

The vibrant red in the painting by Basquiat is echoed in the two lacquered-aluminum Chinese red fretwork chairs on either side of the black lacquer credenza and the red timber of the sensually-shaped dining chairs were designed once again by Grange and were possibly inspired by André Arbus. Note the interesting choice of having not one but two sets of round, bronze dining tables.

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An Art Deco feel is prevalent in the apartment as the geometrically patterned brass mirror can vouch for.

A 1935 Eugene Printz timber-framed and demi-lune brass legs console topped by Chinese stoneware cranes, a rug by Peter Marino, two acrylic side tables from Liz O’Brien and paintings by Picasso and David Hockney are the decorative ‘ingredients’ for this sitting room.

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A very simple, practical open-plan kitchen is adorned by a vintage Georg Jensen silver coffee service.

This ravishing corridor panelled in rosewood and walnut with a Jean-Michel Basquiat canvas leads to the bedrooms.

Another room, another view and angle of Manhattan. A Cy Twombly triptych and jungle-themed materials make up the master suite: a leopard-print carpet by Beauvais redolent of Madeleine Castaing, stools designed by Maison Ramsay circa-1940, palm-tree upholstered cushions on the Philippe Hiquily vintage armchair and a desk by Eugene Printz.

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Facing the master bed, a Joseph Hoffmann chair next to a corner desk in rosewood and discreet fabric-lined walls as a backdrop.

The big damask print on the two-seater sofa and the over-sized Richard Prince painting complement the dusky palette of the master bedroom’s sitting area.

A grey, masculine guest room is clad in a Donghia wallcovering; the side tables, circa-1945, are by David Iatesta and the Murano glass lamps are
by Dino Martens.

The pared-down master bathroom’s elegant and serene palette of white and grey doesn’t detract from the awe-inspiring views of Upper Manhattan and Central Park; white Calacatta marble on the counter tops and splashbacks, Rachel Feinstein painting and a bench by Jansen bench circa-1960. 

Now, that’s what A-Gent of Style calls ‘a room with a view’!

– Photos of interiors by Architectural Digest –


Do some of these products look vaguely familiar to you?

If the answer is yes, it’s probably because you have seen in stores such as
John Lewis, the Conran Shop or Skandium the Taika and Satumetsä dinnerware made by Iittala – the Finnish design brand specialising in design objects, cookware and tableware.

These homeware ceramics were created by Finnish illustrator and artist
Klaus Haapaniemi whose designs are instantly recognisable through his phantasmagorical and whimsical imagery. Haapaniemi mixes his homeland folklore and Arts and Crafts, nature, paganism, fantasy, fairy tales and mysticism and instills his designs with his own quirky twist that conjures up a magical and ethereal world populated with wild animals, creatures and monsters.

Haapaniemi, who originally graduated as a graphic designer from the Lahti Institute of Design, Finland, has now become one of Britain’s most in-demand illustrators in advertising art, fashion and clothing fabric prints; his portfolio includes collaborations with Diesel, where he started as a print designer, then fashion label Bantam for which he moved to Italy to ultimately become their creative director and illustrator, and various projects with Levi’s, Cacharel, Marimekko, D&G, Iittala, Stella McCartney and Christian Louboutin.

He has also decorated the Christmas windows at Selfridges, drawn Christmas story-books with celebrity writers such as Madonna’s daughter Lourdes and David Hasselhoff. In 2008, he won the Graphic Designer of the Year award.

Project with Isetan Wonder Christmas 2012

Collaboration with Christian Louboutin

In November 2010, after moving to London, Haapaniemi launched a new home and fashion textiles brand called Klaus Haapaniemi together with the art director and concept designer Mia Wallenius – whom he met in Italy where she became senior art director at Gucci – under which he has designed his first signature collection including textile products in pure and luxurious materials combining traditional weaving techniques with modern prints and sophisticated colours.

He has now extended his brand to furniture, fashion, books, events and exhibitions and often work together with other designers and studios to create limited edition design pieces and bespoke commissions.

Collaboration with  Christian Louboutin

Collaboration with Christian Louboutin

A-Gent of Style
was delighted to hear that this summer Klaus Haapaniemi was opening his very first flagship shop in London. And what better location that Shoreditch’s Redchurch Street, the hip street that can boast Shoreditch House,
Conran’s The Boundary and Maison Trois Garçons as its residents and also the newly opened Lee Broom showroom, round the corner on Rivington Street.

Having two design-junkie friends living in the area, A-Gent of Style took the opportunity to visit the shop last week and was given a very warm welcome by Mia who very kindly took the time to help A-Gent with his research.

The showroom and shop showcase the whole brand’s products: scarves
(hand-printed silk, satin or fine wool), throws and shawls (lamb’s wool and silk), cushions (woven silk brocade, linen, embroidery, heavy woven tapestry or hand-printed) but also ceramics (cute cats or owls that can be used for storage or just decoratively), prints (beautiful silkscreens printed on coloured heavyweight papers and all signed as limited-edition) and some pieces of furniture such as upholstered, circular poufs.

Mia told me that, a few months ago, Haapaniemi launched a collection of rugs inspired this time by the summer and representing flowers, fruits, bees and pollination. Hand-dyed and made of tufted wool in Varanasi, India, the series of three designs feature the cosmic vortex and unity of the natural universe. The muted colour palette is inspired by earthy Nordic Arts & Crafts textile designs.

A-Gent of Style loved the simple, organic and elegant way the shop was designed: low-level, reeded joinery that skirts around the shop, gorgeous dark green/teal paint
(A-Gent’s favourite colour) and beautiful, delicate bobbin-shaped poles in natural timber on the shelves.

Isn't this whale adorable?

Isn’t this whale adorable?

This has got to be A-Gent's favourite item; love the colour and pattern

This has got to be A-Gent’s favourite item; love the colour and pattern

Gorgeous detail on the shelves that looks like a door plate and handle plate

Gorgeous detail on the shelves that looks like a door and handle plate

I love everything about this cushion pad: the shape, the blue and the contrast stitching

I love everything about this cushion pad: the shape, the colour and the contrast stitching


This rug is an incredible piece of craftmanship



Stunning piece of marble

Stunning piece of marble on the desk


A few gems hidden away in the office that Mia let A-Gent of Style see.

A great, big door handle made of wood

A great, big door handle made of wood


One of the walls upholstered in hand-woven silk fabric. Stunning

One of the walls upholstered in hand-woven silk fabric. Stunning


New rug


Another new rug design


This scuplted mural is made of brass and was used as the focal piece of a functioning bar designed for Design Week

This sculpted mural is laser cut copper and brass and was used as the focal piece for a functioning bar specially designed for London Design Week. Magical

A-Gent of Style was also let in on a secret: Klaus Haapaniemi will be launching soon a range of wallpaper. So stay tuned!

Next time you are in Shoreditch, make sure you stop by Klaus Haapaniemi and let yourself be enchanted. Or make a special trip there, you won’t be disappointed.

In the meanwhile, here’s Klaus Haapaniemi enchanting animation for Finding Wonder Christmas, Isetan, Japan.

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