Paul Smith Interview and his new modern tailoring AW17

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“These are the fabrics that I used to use when I first started my company, you know. Then, they would be double the weight, now they are sort of wearable for today’s world”, Paul Smith told me yesterday after his electric Paris show of new tailoring silhouettes in check, tartan and traditionally British fabrics. For this most recent collection, Paul Smith has carefully edited and updated his brand’s best-selling signature elements. It was also the first time that he presented both his men’s and women’s collections together. The Paul Smith focus is still very much on tailoring with a modern silhouette, the difference lies in the contemporary styling. Suiting worn with sneakers or Chelsea boots gave this collection more of a modern and rock and roll twist. Check suits are worn with biker jackets, patterns clash and collide. The whole emphasis is about showing younger guys that they can look good in a suit. They’re not stuffy. “Tailoring is what we sell in 73 countries successfully”, he told me, “and it just seemed that we should do men’s and women’s together, focussing on tailoring, but you have probably noticed that the cut of the women’s was very different to the cut of the men’s. So one button longer, which is obviously for the hips, to cover the hips, nice strong shoulder.”

“But so many shows are showing navy blue, black and of course that is in the showroom but it’s just nice to show some of the things that I used to do at the beginning of my career. And then, of course, the trick is to co-ordinate them all in a modern way. So if you put them with heavy brogues and a Tattersall check shirt then you look like you are still from the past. Whereas the shapes that we are using, you can put them with sort of rock ‘n’ roll pointed toe shoes and then there’s a slight dandy feel with, you know, using velvet again. It’s what I used at the beginning.” Paul Smith said, explaining the very focused direction of this collection, then reminisced about his first show in Paris in 1976, in an apartment with 30 people inside and the music from a turntable.

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Paul Smith and Womenswear

Paul Smith reminded us yesterday that the reason he even started doing womenswear in the first place was because “people like Grace Coddington, Liz Tilberis from Vogue, Peter Lindberg, Bruce Weber, all those were photographing my men’s clothes on Linda Evangelista etc. Wearing the men’s clothes but on women, and that’s the reason I started my women’s collection”.

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“I think the key thing is that when you start using traditional fabrics the danger is you end up looking traditional and the thing is, it’s the modern way that you put it together.” What Paul Smith has done here is take all the inspiration of 40 years designing and edit into about 40 looks. The Paul Smith look is unadulterated, finessed and edited. This must have been a very difficult task for a man who explodes with ideas. However, the show was a full success. Tweeds, tartan and checks – Viva Britannia, Viva Paul Smith. As the man says himself very succinctly “a fashion show is 13 minutes of showing you guys that we are still coming up with ideas!”

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