The set looked like the back of a club (brick wall, crates of empties), the front-row seating was the same mix of cheap chairs you'd find in a bar, the set list on each of those chairs promised a crash course in new English rock. And when Will Chalker marched out in python pants, Paul Smith had made it official: we were a long way (thank God) from last season's rosy-cheeked schoolboys. Those python pants were belted in leopard print, paired with zebra booties, a check jacket and waistcoat, a shirt with an elaborate print derived from an old wallpaper pattern, and a floral tie to finish it off. All in all, a riotously uplifting assemblage.
Dissect this hodgepodge of color and texture and there is plenty to crave. For the dandy, the rust ponyskin jacket, perhaps, or the big sweaters based on Afghani carpet patterns (a last-season inspiration that clearly still has legs). For the more subdued gent, a houndstooth topcoat or a pair of plaid pants. The full spectrum of the show could be encompassed by this contrast: the pink sweater over a lilac gingham shirt versus the leather biker's vest under a black velvet jacket. Dressing up with spine and spunkthat was the ticket to a collection that added some necessary lead to Mr. Smith's pencil.