January 19, 2008
The time frame for the looks that Paul Smith showed in his latest collection was clearly significant. "My era," he blithely called out as he dashed past backstage, but what exactly was that? His wife Pauline certainly had no clue. She met him in 1967. i-D editor Terry Jones had a feeling it was sometime pre-mod, when British groovers listened to blues and took their style cues from the classic menswear codes. Glen plaid, tattersall, windowpane and Prince of Wales checks, pinstripesthey were all here. But timeand fabric technologyhas moved on, so the fabrics had a lightness and patina that can only be achieved with washing. In the end, however, the collection's underlying theme seemed to be less pre-mod than "How many ways can you serve up a black suit?" Every possible length and trim and arrangement of buttonholes seemed to present itself, so one fell on the eccentric accents (which are, after all, the essence of Sir Paul's success). A zebra belt, a fistful of be-ringed fingers, a leopard-print bootin this context, they practically blazed. And a gray flannel officer's coat and a croc-stamped leather frock coat felt like preludes to a whole new direction.