There’s something eccentrically loveable about Paul Smith. In the most fickle of worlds, the British designer often seems to stand alone as a beacon of stylish respectability. His AW19 collection from Paris Fashion Week takes you back to the beginning of his journey.
Let’s start with a story.
In the late Sixties a keenly resourceful young Paul Smith would charm expert tailors in his hometown of Nottingham into deviating from their norms, cutting him one-of-a-kind clothes in unfamiliar fabrics. A pair of curtains would be transformed into a handmade two-piece suit and floral dress fabrics would become dandyish shirts.
Nodding to this notion of self-expression, Paul Smith AW19 shows the restraint of traditional British sartorial codes is loosened but with consistently elevated construction.
An unfussy and gently dishevelled British elegance prevails with familiar styles recut and refabricated to suit modern needs. A 1930’s British riding jacket in thick cavalry twill provided early inspiration for the collection, its interpretation typical of the twisted classics Paul Smith is famed for. The proportions of the jacket are exaggerated and the construction is modernised, what would’ve once been an 18oz British wool is substituted with a lighter weight Italian cotton and wool cloth and jackets are finished with a floating canvas to allow for complete maneuverability.
Things move on apace to the countryside, when riding-inspired pieces are paired with flight trousers and biker boots. Punk nuances are inspired by more ‘do-it-yourself’, this time from Paul’s wife, Pauline. In the Seventies, Pauline a trained couturier would be called upon to customise her teenage children’s clothing with zips or dying army surplus in a cooking pot.
Old meets new when Tatersall checks – which first appeared on 18th century horse blankets and later in flannel shirting – are re-coloured and find their way onto nylon outerwear and women’s tailoring. Prints see posh and punk collide as painterly florals merge with cut and paste graphics and animal prints.
The latest Paul Smith collection is a celebration of the individuality and independence that’s proudly been at the heart of the eponymous brand since those early days of resourcefulness and self-expression.
Words: Allyson Portee