LFW: Paul Smith

Beeston-born Paul Smith has for many years taken masculine tailoring to a feminine extreme, and in doing so created a global fashion-following. His loyalty in producing traditional ready to wear pieces makes him one of the most interesting fashion brands, and one to watch at London Fashion Week. His new collection which was showcased at the Royal Horticultural Hall on February 19th was no exception. Unsurprisingly he once again demonstrates how masculine tailoring for feminine frames should be cut and styled with effortless, androgynous flair. We should be bored of Paul Smith by now, but frankly we aren’t.

The Paul Smith brand has always remained faithful to its original inspirations; the male silhouette. And his recent show at LFW was no different. The Autumn/Winter 2012 women’s collection was a expanse of separate, deep colours. He used layers of warm colour to maximize texture; whilst using colour blocking to draw attention to stand-out separates. A palette of burgundy, aubergine, mustard and browns kept the line autumnal, whilst checked tweeds reinstated a distinctly British feel. Smith’s use of fabrics was also applauded; ranging from velvet, wool, silk and tweed to name a few. His use of layered, heavy fabrics helped to reinstate manhood; turned up cuffs were complimented by flat mannish brogues and heavy woollen socks to give a sense of macho cool.

This collection, like many previously shown by the designer, gave credit to the classy, understated chino. Beige was a traditional favourite, but this line saw the classic trouser in shades of navy, burgundy and black, always short-hemmed and slim-fit. The cosy corded trouser, a traditional British favourite, was also introduced in shades of mustard and burgundy.

Masculine touches were further apparent in the styling, where models wore minimal accessories other than heavy – rimmed glasses to harshen the look. Also, Smith reinforced masculinity through demure layering; polo-necks and woollen socks meant little skin was shown, keeping the collection reserved. And when skirts and dresses were shown, they were no shorter than midi length and accompanied by oversized layering and thick wintery tights. Unlike many of the other shows at LFW, there was not a bare leg to be seen in this collection. Furthermore, thick, oversized and mannish coats were worn off the shoulder to create the borrowed from my boyfriend appeal, which simultaneously shaped the masculine silhouettes which stormed the catwalk.

This particular collection of Smith’s is extremely interesting,  as at times it boasts a sense of clashing tailoring, yet some of his looks are overwhelmingly matching such as his tweed jumpsuit with identical gloves.

Smith took inspirations from Japanese origami-style tailoring in this collection, which helps soften masculine pieces and bring shape to a straight frame. Japanese inspiration could however be due to the expansion of Paul Smith as a global brand and its recent opening of its first Japanese store.

Paul Smith is a man who cleverly creates a brand by simultaneously being both designer and a retailer; he brings us classic catwalk-worthy items at at lower cost than most designer pieces, and creates timeless investments. His androgynous flair and quirky on-trend detailing make his collection not only appealing, but more importantly sellable; in the Paul Smith brand we can invest in brilliance at a fraction of the cost. This undoubtedly makes him a figurehead of British fashion; his appreciation of classic tailored style and on-trend detail means he will always be one to watch at fashion week.

Lucy Bramley.


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