A nautical theme was promised by the invitation and the backdrop. Andrew Hale described the soundtrack he'd created as "Portobello-on-Sea," which suggested there'd be hipness in the mix, too. A foghorn sounded forlornly as the first model appeared. But of groovy sailors there was not a sign in Paul Smith
's new show. The anchor motif on a sweater, a watery sweatshirt print, another of deep-sea organisms were concessions to the assumed theme. Otherwise, there was a straightforward parade of dark, skinny tailoring, with fluoro accents to break the gloom. Smith used to be the standard-bearer for a charmingly dandified Britishness. It was surely that ambassadorial role which snared him the prestigious City of Paris award he picked up earlier this week, but here his clothes slotted into a generic international style. Efficient it may be, but there was nothing about the sporty outerwear and the slightly shrunken jackets and pants that broadcast Sir Paul's personality as a designer. The tide, you sensed, was out on this show.