September 19, 2010 London
That's exactly how it went for Paul Smith 12 years ago, and today he decided to return to his original masculine-feminine womenswear sensibility. It was a welcome homecoming, especially to those who've watched Smith's women's collections wander around the fashion map, searching for a niche to call home. "It looks like you borrowed your boyfriend's shirt, your boyfriend's jacket, your boyfriend's trousers," Smith said backstage.
Well, perhaps she borrowed a little more than that. There was a cute gender-bendy wit to striped and dotty shirts tucked into jaunty ankle-cropped trousers, worn with teddy-boy hairdos, cat-eye sunglasses, and clear spectator brogues.
Of course, Smith's particular brand of menswear originally appealed to women because it indulged its feminine side with colorful dandy appeal. That took flight here in jeweled iridescent suits and tailored blazers with wide contrasting hems in floral or polka dot, and a whole bucket of Smith's signature royal purple. Even the floral and swirling multicolored print he used in shirtdresses and shifts would be right at home in the lining of a man's suit. Here and there, Smith pushed the showpiece element just a hair too far—a button-down deconstructed into a strapless dress seemed just plain silly, and the jury is still out on the onesie suit. Nevertheless, Smith gets points for a prodigally good show.