Paul Smith has been coloring in his own history over the past few years, building his men's collections on details from his past. And that's always given them a bit of a kick. After his show today, he insisted his latest effort was free of personal reference; maybe that's what was wrong with it. It was an uncharacteristically downbeat affair with no Spring—never mind summer—in its step at all, even with soft leopard-print booties as footwear. Instead, a varsity jacket layered over a tailored blazer felt like a willfully perverse riposte to the thousand-degree heat in the street outside.

That kind of contrast seemed like the key to the collection. Sober navy was banded with orange in the opening section. Classic and casual faced off in a blazer layered over an anorak, or a Henley over pegged pants with a dropped crotch (a difficult balance to strike). Shine and matte were combined in a single piece. That hint of a split personality splintered into a prismatic print that was gratifyingly vivid amid Smith's subdued symphony in blue. It harked back to a time when the designer could be relied on to inject some English eccentricity into the international menswear scene. But, according to Smith, sales have never been better. So what's that say for character in clothing?