This season, Paul Smith is celebration central as the always eccentric British label celebrates its 50th anniversary through a collection rife with “blue-sky positivity”.
Somewhere between his eclectic inspirations, refusal to conform, and signature multicoloured stripes, 74-year-old designer Paul Smith screams success. Both the man and the brand have come to represent quintessentially British style, incorporating classics with a touch of whimsy for a whopping 50 years. And it’s in celebration of this milestone that key prints and shapes from the archive have been revisited and reinterpreted for AW20. Tailored garments remain at the centre of the collection, but with an ease that’s at the heart of Paul Smith, while a clean and lean silhouette nods to the 70s with added length, high-breaks, and a minimal feel. Both fabric and detailing are front and center – double-breasted Melton overcoats are finished with contrast topstitching and raw edges, check and houndstooth tailoring is cut from cloths that are British in style but Italian in fluidity.
And when it comes to the colour palette, natural tones reign supreme, with the likes of teal, terracotta, and clay complementing a bright blue sky. Heavy jumbo corduroy, in the key colour of sky blue, injects the collection with a cloud-like bounce.
On a similar theme, proportions are exaggerated in puffer jackets and trainers to create an air of dreamlike fantasy. For the uninitiated, denim is a regular feature of many Paul Smith catwalk collections, now appearing raw and traditional or overdyed and modern with a unique floral camouflage pattern. Thick shearling coats, meanwhile, look to the designer’s dandyish pals wearing their grandmas’ fur coats in the 70s. But no Paul Smith anniversary collection would be complete without the spaghetti print, which originated when a wax plate of spaghetti from a fake food shop made its way into a photographic print in Tokyo.
Today, it has been scaled up, recoloured, and woven in textural wool jumpers and printed on floor-length down jackets. Another archive print comes courtesy of a faulty fax machine – a warped Paul Smith logo – which has been reproduced on shirts and jersey pieces, taking on a newfound irreverence in 2020. After all, logomania as a sartorial trend shows no signs of slowing down. And luckily for those who prefer fashion with a side of quirk, neither is Paul Smith. ✤
Highlights from the Paul Smith Autumn/Winter 2020 catwalk: