The Year Of The Rabbit: Paul’s Bunny Collection

To mark a very special Lunar New Year – 2023 is the Year of the Rabbit – we asked Paul to talk us through a few of his favourite characters from his collection of rabbit figurines.

Share this story

Despite the cornucopia of things that populate even the farthest reaches of Paul’s office ­– from the precariously balanced stacks of books to the endless assortment of various knick-knacks – it’s hard to miss the abundance of rabbits that are nestled about the place. Bunnies – in toy, decorative or figurine form ­– you see, have become one of Paul’s favourite treasures.

In Chinese zodiac terms at least, it makes sense that rabbits are one of the designer’s preferred objects to collect – even if it all began by accident (more on that later). In the lunar calendar, the rabbit symbolises a creative spirit, a fondness for art and design and attention to detail ­– all traits that accurately describe, perhaps uncannily so, Paul and his designs.

And, as we begin our celebrations of Lunar New Year and approach the start of the Year of the Rabbit, we asked Paul to pick out a few of his favoured specimens and tell us all about how they came to be in his collection.

The First Rabbit

The rabbit that started it all, sent to Paul by a friend decades ago after he explained to him on a long train journey that he was intently staring out the window to see if he could spot a bunny. He joked that rabbits were his good luck charm. The quip between friends caught on. “He must have told somebody, who told somebody, who told somebody, who told somebody, and so now my wife, before every fashion show, gives me a little rabbit.” This sky-blue papier-mâché rabbit still sits pride of place in Paul’s office.

The Thoughtful Rabbit

Still covered in stamps and a scribbled address – souvenirs from its voyage from Japan – this pink plastic rabbit was sent to Paul by a fan in the country who has regularly been sending the designer trinkets and treasures for decades but has never once revealed their identity. “I love it because in our transactional world, it means so much to be given something with zero expectations,” Paul says. “It’s purely about connection and communication, and I find it joyful that people want to communicate with me.”

The Fun Rabbits

Affectionately dubbed “the yoga bunnies” by Paul, this quad of tumbling rabbits tells you everything you need to know about the designer’s whimsical and playful sense of humour. A favourite talking point for new visitors to his office, it recalls the days when Paul was first setting up shop in Nottingham and wanted to fill it with art and objects that would spark lively conversations between himself and clients – rather than stick to the standard (and rather staid) script that tailoring shops at the time typically did. “When people came in, I immediately wanted them to feel relaxed and at ease,” Paul explains. “And showing them an art print from a market in Paris or an antique ceramics piece I’d found at a flea market was an icebreaker.”

The Festive Rabbit

Sprinkled with a dusting of sparkling glitter, this diminutive (and, let’s face it, frankly adorable) bunny is a delicate Christmas tree decoration sent to him by a family in Rimini, Italy, one of Paul’s favourite countries to visit and where he spends his summer holidays. Their gifts don’t start and end with rabbits, though. In fact, Paul has a dedicated table in his office that holds all the items they’ve sent him over the years, including everything from vintage cycling jerseys to trophies and memorabilia. “I think it stems from shared values: a love of life and pure curiosity… encouraging curiosity is very important,” Paul says. “Because they find them interesting, they send these lovely objects to me in the hopes that I’ll find them interesting. And I very much do.”

The Precious Rabbit

Another specimen given to Paul at an event by an admirer, this incredibly delicate rabbit appears to be made from fragile porcelain but look closer and you see it is actually painted papier-mâché. It was presented to Paul nestled inside an old iPhone box and that remains its home to this day. “I hope people who give me these beautiful things know that everything is equally important to me,” Paul says. “It’s never about monetary value or rarity, that’s not the point for me. If they send me origami made from a flyer or scrap paper, what’s truly precious to me is the fact that someone made the effort to send it to us.”

Discover More


Our Signature Stripe Balloon Takes Its Sophomore Flight

We take to the skies once more in the handmade Signature Stripe balloon to capture it against the backdrop of the magnificent Mojave Desert. And we took a few friends along on the ride…



Our MINI Recharged Takes Tokyo

A visit to one of Paul’s favourite cities was only fitting after all? After its debut in Milan, the Paul Smith + MINI Recharged touches down in Japan, exhibited alongside the MINI STRIP.


Sign Up For Updates

Enter your email

The Year Of The Rabbit: Paul’s Bunny Collection

Published: 21.11.2022
Photography: Ozzi Sanderson
Words: Molly Isabella Smith