Sir Paul Smith opened and closed his show today with two identical suits, one in blue and one in yellow. The suits were slouchy, comprising a square single-button jacket and fluid cuffed trousers, and they had the sexy, shrugged-on attitude of a woman playing dress-up in her husband's closet. Ah
, you thought, watching the first suit, the blue one, walk down the runway: Paul Smith
has got its authority back. And then, at the end of the show, as the yellow suit took its turn on the catwalk, you thought about what might have been. This collection wasn't bad—it was stocked with perfectly nice pieces—but it had a grab-bag quality, and the clothes only rarely seemed to articulate a point of view. Smith's long shirtdresses exuded some of the sexy, carefree confidence found in those mannish blue and yellow suits; his baggy, rolled-up trousers, ruffle-detailed blouses, and multicolor hand-knits had a workday look and a vacation attitude. Most of the other looks, though, only offered novelty. Notably, Smith was fixated on lapels this season and created jackets that emphasized the lapels in a variety of ways, in particular by exaggerating their size or silhouette. It was hard to see the point. It was also hard to imagine the woman who'd wear the mannish suits or the sexy long shirtdresses, bothering with those jackets, or the printed minidresses, or the short shorts.