Keep Your Feet On the Ground
By Kim Belov
Our January issue fell together naturally — we have Fyodor Sergeevich Bondarchuk’s stories about his loved ones; a comedy by Nina Nazarova about today’s most popular dog breed; portraits of graduates from Russia’s high‑tech Skolkovo center, carried out by our photographer Fridkes no less impressively than his predecessors carried out their portraits of Napoleonic War generals in the Hermitage; our new rating, the GQ Grooming Awards, your ray of light in the dark world of fatty textures; and finally, “A Gentleman’s Guide to Office Life” (that is, a guide for all of us, except Fyodor Sergeevich Bondarchuk).
But now about something completely different.
I got very lucky while working gone this issue: God (in the form of Olga Yudkis, from the company Bosco), called and offered to host a public talk with Sir Paul Smith.
I met with him twice. The first time was during his last visit to Moscow, and the second was in Paris, where GQ editors from all over the world gathered for a conference. I don’t remember the details, but I remember Paul Smith very well. He carried himself like the rock stars of our imagination: he was colorful, open, and transmitted energy to everyone around him. He acted more like a rock star than another Sir Paul, the former Beatle. Billy Mack from Love Actually without the drugs — that’s Paul Smith.
Forty years in the business. 2,000 stores around the world, 500 which are stand‑alone stores. A knighthood. What allowed this unsuccessful racing cyclist from a provincial backwater to occupy such dizzying heights in the contemporary fashion world? Four things, according to GQ:
1. Lateral thinking: “You know what lateral thinking is?” Sir Paul asked me, when we discussed his upcoming public talk. Lateral thinking is the ability to discover ideas in unexpected places, to look at the situation from angles nobody else can see. If you are making flower prints, then you don’t need to copy what’s already been, but you also don’t need to ignore it. You need to discover unexpected solutions. For example, a print with tanks