Sir Paul Smith is known to take his party hosting very seriously, busying about and hovering over shoulders to make sure his guests have all they need for a proper frolic. The same meticulous pursuit of leisurely perfection seeped through his Spring men's collection, staged under the soaring glass dome of the Bourse de Commerce, where a site-specific garden of potted cacti and succulents had been installed, replacing the piles of Oriental rugs in the same space last season.
He explained the plants backstage. "My young designers, who are only 20 to 25, are so interested in cultivating their own gardens," he said. "I think it's so delightful that the young generation wants to do that. The news is so full of horror. When people ask my advice, I think of them and say, 'Just relax. Tend a garden.'"
The greenery, which made it into the collection as a fern print, was but one facet of the sprawling show. Smith typically melds eclectic cultural sources with idiosyncratic colors and textures, creating a well-traveled, well-informed Pop sensibility. He did the same here in a disparate assemblage of near-louche scarves, desert shades, friendship rings, subtle paisley (if paisley can be subtle), at least two kinds of fringe, papery leather, a chevron motif, purplish plaids, and kitschy prints—all converging to create a lively and decidedly outré rejoinder to the chaos of the world.
The two pieces of a traditional suit—no vests here, somewhat surprisingly—had been pulled apart and paired with other, more casual items of the modern man's wardrobe: pajamas, tunics, track pants, shorts, sweatshirts, Harrington jackets. The liquid loungewear aspect may not find its way into men's wardrobes as easily as the humorous knits or the dusty dégradé. But it's an option, should any of Smith's customers be in the market for proper frolic attire. Besides, he says, "I was brought up on Pop Art and rock 'n' roll. I will always be irreverent."