Paul Smith is well known for being a native of Nottingham, and yet he’s lived in London most of his life. One place he frequented from the early days – and still visits every week – is Harrods. Here, the celebrated fashion designer tells us why


I started my little shop in Nottingham in 1970, but I also worked freelance [as a designer] from around 1972 until the ’80s while also running my own business. During that period, I spent a lot of time in London, and opened a few stores in the capital that I needed to nurture. It was a busy existence, so I had this system for meeting up with my wife, Pauline. This was, of course, pre mobile phone, so I used to arrange to meet her at this place at six o’clock, or this place at seven o’clock, and our most regular meeting place was Harrods.


In those days, Harrods downstairs had these beautiful, big green leather couches, and I think there was some sort of banking service down there as well. This was the time when department stores – not just Harrods, but department stores around the world – were able to be far more generous with space. So instead of using all the square footage for retail, which they have to do now because it’s so expensive, they could give more over to customers. So the basement and its couches were a lovely place to just hang out.


Quite often I’d be at a factory in, say, Peckham in south London, which is where we used to make the shirts, and then of course get stuck in the traffic. I was supposed to meet her at 5.30 and we were going to drive up to Nottingham, and the only consolation was that I knew she was sitting on this very comfortable, beautiful, huge green leather couch in the basement of Harrods. And then I’d arrive, park – probably without any worry about getting a parking ticket – run downstairs and pick her up.


We still go to Harrods, particularly the food hall, once a week, at least. We live not too far away. Of course, my other relationship with Harrods is as a fashion designer. They’ve been selling my menswear there for more than 20 years, and it’s been a really steady, lovely, honest relationship for all that time.


But Pauline and I are still customers, too. We’ll buy our fishcakes from Harrods or maybe sauce to go on some pasta – the Barolo and ragu are favourites – or some of their bread. We just had to buy some vegan chocolates for somebody and we went to Harrods for them. We’re very familiar with the heritage of the Food Hall after all these years. It’s a great place, where everything – the fish, the vegetables, the meat – looks great. After all these years it has obviously changed, because retailing has changed. But it’s still somewhere where you get a thrill when you go in, and there are not many of those in the world.


The Paul Smith menswear collection is on sale at Harrods, 87-135 Brompton Road, London SW1X 7XL;